I used to enjoy watching Big Bang Theory. Penny was always talking about wanting to leave her job at The Cheesecake Factory, and I assumed that it was a made-up cheesecake store, for the sake of the show. Then I found out that there really is a Cheesecake Factory and they don’t just serve cheesecakes, and I was shocked to say the least!
My daughter, Rose, went to Hawaii and whilst there, she visited The Cheesecake Factory a few times, and raved about it ever since. She’d relay wondrous tales of an endless menu containing dishes too wonderful to imagine, and she’d give me play by play descriptions of the different meals she ate. I would drool— literally, and occasionally I’d look up the menu online, planning what I’d try when I finally had the opportunity to go there. I wrote out a list of my favourite meals, and even looked up knock-off recipes on Pinterest. Not because I wanted to make them, but because I wanted to be able to imagine the wonderful meals properly. Dining at The Cheesecake Factory was on my bucket list, and finally I was able to tick it off.
We flew into Honolulu on a steamy morning, waited way too long for our bags and finally hit the streets of Hawaii. We couldn’t check into our Airbnb until 5 pm, and as it was still morning we had a lot of time to kill. We caught a cab to Waikiki and dropped our massive load of suitcases at a holding place, for a small fortune of course, but who cares? It’s Hawaii! It was then I laid eyes on The Cheesecake Factory— the real thing, on the same strip as Waikiki Beach. It was too early for lunch but it was a done deal; I’d soon be gorging at this dream destination.
Waikiki Beach was gorgeous. There’s nothing quite like dipping your jet-lagged feet into the ocean after a long flight, with the sun on your skin, and iPhone snapping shots every which way. I love Hawaii, no doubt, but back to the food. Finally it was an appropriate time to eat lunch, so off we went to the gleaming star of the USA, and found ourselves in a dark booth with a menu like a small telephone directory. A million choices, and whilst that was exciting, I found myself unable to choose. I had waited so long for the moment and when it finally arrived, I had stage fright— I felt so much pressure to get it right that I didn’t know what to order. I also was intimidated by the sheer size of the servings being brought out. A family of ten in India wouldn’t eat that much food in a day. I had been dreaming of a meat dish with a creamy sauce, but instead, I ordered a salad. Please don’t judge me! Let me just tell you that it was no ordinary salad. It was the salad of kings; a salad so indulgent that a man on death row would truly consider it for his last meal. And this is where I noticed something else startlingly wonderful about America— you can change the order! You can actually do whatever you want to it and they will bring it to you. An example, “Can I please order the house salad, but can you hold the vegetables, add a leg of lamb, crack ten eggs on it, add strawberry puree, and give me a side of biscuits?” The answer is ALWAYS, no problem ma’am! It doesn’t even have to make any sense, they’ll give it to you. Australia is just not like that. If they give you the wrong order and you have a severe allergy to it, you eat it, pay for it, and thank them profusely for their kind gesture in calling you an ambulance. Some restaurants and cafes have a note in the menu telling you that you cannot change the dishes. And even worse, if you order a burger for example, and ask for no meat or cheese, but want extra sauce, they’ll charge you extra for the sauce and give you no discount for having no filling! It’s crazy. I deal with this constantly at cafes.
The Cheesecake Factory allowed me to mix up my salad a great deal. I removed the bits I didn’t like and added more of what I did like. It was served with a beautiful piece of grilled salmon on top and it was so delicious I couldn’t believe it. No doubt it was one of the best salads I have had. I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t have the gumption to try a larger meal, so I went back on my last night and had a spectacular Thai curry. I don’t know how they packed so much flavour and spice into one meal, but it was incredibly tasty. The downside is that the meals are so enormous that even the thought of trying their famous cheesecake was too much for me. I needed to run back to our room and lie down after the curry.
I am still just as excited about The Cheesecake Factory now, as I was before I tried it. In fact, now that I know how good the food is I can’t wait to get back and work my way through the entire menu. I am thinking that I will go there just for cheesecake one day. The coffee there is awful— up there with the worst coffee I’ve ever had, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not The Coffee House— it’s The Cheesecake Factory, and I am a fan for life!