I know that it may come as a surprise to some, I know my friends were shocked, but I had never been to The Cheesecake Factory before. A girlfriend of mine planned to host a surprise birthday dinner for her beau at The Cheesecake Factory in Tukwila, WA. My husband and I made the trek to Tukwila to enjoy a nice evening out with our friends on January 27.
We were the first to arrive and since there is no call ahead seating, my friend asked me to put our name on the waiting list for a table for a party of seven. As soon as I walked in the restaurant, I was greeting with a crowd of hungry people, standing and waiting for a table. I could not even see the hostess stand between the sea of people, who had spilled out into the entry of the restaurant. I finally made my way to the hostess stand and was told I could expect up to a 55 minute wait. Yikes.
While waiting for our table, I was given the chance to look around at the decor which actually surprised me. The columns in the restaurant had an ancient Egyptian flair while the lighting reminded me of something I’d expect in a mediterranean restaurant. I certainly didn’t expect that kind of decor at a place called The Cheesecake Factory. But you know what? I liked it. I am not certain but I am pretty positive that we did not wait 55 minutes for our table. The rest of our party had not even arrived yet when our name was called. We were seated in a large booth that comfortably sat six adults with a chair on the end for the seventh guest.
Reading the menus was an unexpected challenge. The lighting in the restaurant is incredibly dim which makes reading menus pretty hard. Each of us held up our menus close to our faces in order to read the selections the restaurant had to offer. We ended up giggling when we realized that we all had our menus so close to our faces. Two couples ordered appetizers, myself included. My husband and I ordered Chicken Samosas with cilantro sauce ($4.50 from the SkinnyLicous menu) and another couple ordered Buffalo Blasts. Since my husband and I had never been there before and the other couple (who had been there before) had never ordered Buffalo Blasts before, we didn’t know what to expect. We just knew we were hungry! When our waitress brought out the appetizers, she handed my husband a large plate and said the plate was the Chicken Samosas. We were a little surprised by a heaping pile of fried looking yumminess, considering what we ordered was from a “SkinnyLicious” menu. Fried food? SkinnyLicious? ….Ok. We tried the food and it was pretty good but we wondered where the cilantro sauce was. We were pretty sure what we got was some sort of blue cheese sauce. We continued nibbling and the other couple ate their appetizer until we could flag down our waiter (we had a waitress who was covering for the waiter until he could get to our table). We asked him for the cilantro sauce and he seemed puzzled why we were asking for it. Trying not to get smart with him, I explained what we ordered and told him that the menu stated it came with cilantro sauce. Then we figured out where the confusion was coming from: the waitress had given the other couple and us the wrong appetizers. She switched them. Apparently this waitress did not know what the appetizers looked like nor did we, we had no idea what to expect. So this whole time, we were eating our friend’s appetizer and they had eaten ours. Well, gee, that kind of stinks. We brought this up to the waiter when he returned again and remarkably, he took both the appetizers off our bill. I felt a bit bad because we had eaten the appetizers, we just weren’t happy with the fact we were given the wrong food. We were very appreciative of the gesture by the management.
My husband and I ordered the Four Seasons pizza ($12.95) to share between us for our main entree. As soon as the pizza arrived at the table, I could tell it was going to be good. The Four Seasons pizza is served with different toppings in four sections (get it? four seasons?). The pizza featured: artichoke and roasted tomatoes, prosciutto and wild mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella and tomato. Let me tell you, this pizza is simply delicious. All the ingredients work so well together and the crust – let me tell you about the crust. It isn’t an overly think crust and not overly thick. The bottom of the pizza is oh-so-slightly crispy while the outer edges of the pizza has a taste of garlic and perhaps a dash of sea salt. Delicious!
For dessert, my husband and I also shared a piece (and when I say piece, I really mean a portion the size of your head) of red velvet cake cheesecake ($8.00). This massive slice of cheesecake looked like it could have been heaven hidden in the form of cheesecake. It was so inviting, so decadent looking, it can’t help but be eaten. My husband and I dug into the cheesecake without hesitation. After soothing our sweet tooth, remarkably there was cheesecake leftover. We brought the rest of the cheesecake and pizza home to share with our friend who was watching our children.
So what did I think overall? Well the restaurant itself was entirely too dark. Its one thing to create ambiance and another thing to feel the need bring a flashlight with you next time in order to read the menu. For as many people that were in the restaurant, it was quite cold/drafty as well. We weren’t thrilled with the fact the waitress clearly had no knowledge of the food she was delivering otherwise she would not have given her guests the wrong appetizers but claim it was what they ordered (what if we had food allergies?). Oh, and since when does one bottle of beer cost more than an appetizer? $5 for a bottle of Corona? No wonder they don’t put prices next to their drinks in the menu. But looking beyond that, The Cheesecake Factory has an outstanding and impressively large menu of food to choose from. If you ever have a large party of guests who can’t make up their mind on what kind of food to get: should we get Mexican? Italian? Seafood? … Go to The Cheesecake Factory. They have it all. Not to mention they have types of cheesecake that I didn’t even know existed. Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake? I might just have to drive an hour up to Tukwila just to get some of that.