So yesterday we went to the Newport Beach outpost of the Cheesecake Factory chain with my cranky 70-year-old MIL ("Broccoli Cheese Soup?! No, I don't want THAT, my stomach can't handle that, now I have to look at the menu all over again!!!") and the Spinster Family Friend. Packed as always with OC shoppers. Efficiently seated after the accurately-predicted 20-minute wait, our friendly and busy server gets our drink orders and has the busboy plonk down the soft, faintly warm, sweet bread mini-loaves. The sweetness makes them addictive. We order Avocado Egg Rolls (hey, it sounded light). A nice interplay of crisp deep-fried wrapper, cool avocado and (there it is again!) sweet tamarind/rice vinegar dipping sauce. They are quickly eaten-- before they can get cool. You'll see why that's a big deal.
Then my main course arrives: Fish and Chips. A mountain of beer-battered cod planks, a Big Honkin' Spoonful of cole slaw, and an Idaho field's worth of french fries. A pickly tartar sauce helps the first couple of planks go down quickly. Then it happens.
All the food starts to cool to room temperature.
And then you notice the fish pieces are salty. And the beer batter is tough and too chewy (believe me, it's not a pleasant thing)-- obviously overmixed and laid on way too thickly. I notice that everyone else's excitement with their entrées has long faded. No one can finish their huge plate of food.
Maybe I'm just venting. But how about HIGHER-QUALITY FOOD, PREPARED COMPETENTLY and IN PORTIONS THAT CAN BE ENJOYED WHILE IT'S STILL AT AN APPROPRIATE TEMPERATURE?!?!?
I think Chowhound-worthy places in general are that way because they know about those key facts that make food worth eating. Am I out of line here?