until this wknd i had managed to never try the cheesecake factory. no particular beef with them, just that they're a chain, i'm no longer a suburbanite, and the couple times someone or other towed me over there (union square) it was always mobbed.
well at 3pm on a saturday someone else led me there for a surprise off-hour rush at their ramparts. well it appears that any hour on a june saturday is rush hour there. we actually had to wait just to get a pager (with which we would wait at least half of an hour more). the difference this time, we got lucky and a spot opened up at a bar table.
luck may actually be the wrong word. it was merely an opportunity to experience the very essence of american excess. what can i say? in quintessential fashion, the menu features american classics and ethnic imports all dumbed down in flavor. to make up for it, they are supersized in scale. the 'special' chicken marsala had two huge hammered flat (unmarinated?) chicken breasts dripping in a brown sauce with little marsala character. it rested on a bed of bowtie pasta, which had to have been dry tossed with oil or butter.
the burger was predictably notable only for it's scale. i actually had to put salt and pepper on the flavor-lite patty.
food-stoned at this point, i could only muster meager resistance to the notion of cheesecake. i justified my acquiescence by thinking that if it was as unremarkable as i predicted, i could forever ignore this institution without ever worrying that i had missed something. to open the greatest possible window to any chance snowflakes of authenticity, i ordered the classic version of the signature dessert adorned only with fresh strawberries (to take advantage of seasonal offerings). sadly the crust (graham cracker style) lacked crispness or crunch. no doubt with the thirty odd cheesecake variants chilling in their fridge, this particular puck had been sitting around unmolested since morning. friday morning maybe. the filling was technically cheesecake, but lacked the light fluffy richness and cheesy tang that make the dish. oh well!
at this point, many cheesecake factory patrons have merely to hike back out to the parking lot to their leather-lined loot-laden suv's for the ride home. but how do you handle mass food coma in union square? i wasn't the only one to roll my calorie charged corpus conveniently down the escalator to macy's furniture department. barcoloungers, here we come!