Well, folks, I told you Atlanta is mediocre as a food town. Sure it's big, but it is dominated by average chain restaurants and expensive linked restaurants (meaning local chains of 5 or more restaurants). The best eating here is to be found at ethnic restaurants (thank goodness for them), some pleasant pub-style places or a couple of the remaining southern style eateries.
We've just had our worst meal since relocating to the big ATL. It occurred last night at "The Cheesecake Factory" in the heart of Buckhead. No, I did not choose it, I was dragged there by my sister, who drove in from Covington. Since she was intending to 'treat' -until she saw the outrageous check for 3- we accompanied her to a place we'd never been and didn't want to go. She assured us she'd been to this -yuk!- Cheesecake Factory before, and the food was 'very good'.
The food wasn't inedible but it offered a typical contemporary melange menu, similar to its decor. The faded decor was an affront to the eye, stuck in the early 90s, seeming the inspiration for Al Copeland 's grandiose pseudo-classy surroundings for plebes. The spiral bound multi-page menu wandered all over the place. Warning worse to come was that no prices were listed for cocktails or beers. The wine prices were ridiculous. We thought we were safe sticking to bottled Sam Adams lager. The seemingly medicated but attractive waitress informed us the taps for the *two* draught beers the bar offered had been broken for days. (Ding, ding, ding. Another warning) She returned with 2 light beers we didn't order, and sent back.
After perusing the copious menu choices (pseudo choices, I should say, since many dishes utilised the same ingredients in different groupings) we ordered. Sis had to have the freshly made guacomole, which was accompanied by chips, chopped tomatoes & cilantro, and a daub of sour cream, priced at over 8 bucks. DH ordered a plain salad. Sis just loves Chicken Piccata. Waitress asked her if she wanted capers with it. Of course she did, since she knew what goes into the light lemony sauce for picatta entrees. Little did she know that at Cheesecake Factory the Chicken Piccata comes with something like a lemon tinged Alfredo sauce. It also comes with plain angel hair pasta and NO sides whatsoever. If I recall the dish was about 15 bucks and my sis the big eater lost interest in her eagerly anticipated Cheesecake Factory dinner halfway through her entree.
My husband had the "'tonight's grilled salmon special" which was miso sauced (creamy ~LOL~ miso sauce, plain rice, no sides or edible garnish.) I didn't want to taste either of my dining companions' dishes. I'd ordered a salad, chossing one which I deemed simple enough to be safe. Greens, barbecue seasoned grilled chicken, avocado, black beans, 'grilled' fresh corn which tasted fresh from the can, all topped with a pile of 'thin-sliced' onion rings. I asked for the Barbecue Ranch dressing to be surved on the side. The salad was edible, ordinary, and large enough for two people as well as priced for two.
Sis had free glass of water with her entree, later a watery post-prandial cofee. Waitress asked if she wanted cream and sugar. She did. I don't guess they charged her extra for the luxury of lightening and sweetening the coffee. DH and I each had 2 small bottles of Sam Addams.
Sis is no cheapskate but when she saw the pretax, pretip total of 93 bucks she was relieved when we insisted paying for our share of the meal which was over 70 bucks. To top off the Cheesycake Factory dining experience, we contributed our share in cash. When the waitress quickly brought back Sis's credit card ticket to sign, she was charged 20 dollars over what the balance should've been. Usually no slouch when it comes to bucks, Sis politely informed waitress of the mistake. At first waitress checked the little stack of bills in her folder and said we must've handed her 10s instead of 20s until she counted a little deeper. "Oh, I'm sorry about that" she drawled as if her miscalculation wasn't a hopeful gamble that 2 beers each might make DH and me forgetful.
What I'd like to forget is The Cheesecake Factory. Never have diners paid so much (around $120 including tax and tip, no dessert for my cheesecake loving sister or us) to get so little dining pleasure.
Of course were it not for Sis being unable to admit that her older sis knows a lot more about dining out than she does, we'd never have patronised this horrid blight in the dining universe. I'd mentioned several places in the neighbourhood, but noooooo.
For your entertainment, you can peruse the numerous pages of a Cheescake Factory menu:
Usually when I walk into the door of a place which looks cheezy, or I look at a menu and see choices which don't appeal to me, I'll just leave it and go elsewhere. More people ought to do this, which is what my restaurateur grandma taught me to avoid bad dining experiences.