Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory: King of Prussia Review

The Cheesecake Factory evokes memories of college - a great time in most people's lives. Gathering all your friends to get a meal out of your folks - good times. While The Cheesecake Factory is indeed a chain - it's a chain of mammoth proportions - on so many levels. It is indeed a factory, with herds of patrons lining up out the door (not an exaggeration on this visit). The waits can be lengthy (no reservations accepted!), but there's a reason why the masses of America (obese or not) wait for so long. The food is consistent and actually pretty damn good. Oh - and the portions are gargantuan and reasonably priced.

We recently visited King of Prussia mall to do some holiday shopping - this is certainly one of the nicer, if not nicest malls in Pennsylvania. For the holidays - they decorated the mall with huge Christmas trees with moving ornaments and of course, Santa was out to play as well.

But what are you all really here for? Onto the food!

Bread Service

All meals at the Cheesecake Factory start off with two types of bread - sourdough and multi-grain honey wheat. Both hit the spot after what are usually interminable waits (this time was 50 minutes). The butter provided was in those rectangular foiled packages - to be expected with this many patrons I suppose.

Avocado Egg Rolls ($9.95)
 Avocado and Cilantro Fried in a Crisp Wrapper. Served with a Tamarind-Cashew Dipping Sauce.

These are insanely addictive. The avocado is ripe and creamy within the crisply fried, yet somehow light egg rolls. These egg rolls have cilantro in them, which helps to lighten the dish as well. The dipping sauce is accentuated with tamarind and is thin, so doesn't render the entire dish too heavy. I always order these when I come to the Cheesecake Factory. In fact, I remember hosting a catered party a few years back and ordered two trays of these (about 60 rolls). I distinctly remember eating about 20 myself between that night and the next day for lunch.

Sweet Corn Fritters ($4.95)
Fresh Corn in a Light Crispy Batter. 

The Cheesecake Factory started doing a small plates menu a few years back and has kept it on the menu since. Smart move in my estimation - especially as I prefer variety. These corn fritters were actually thickly battered - but that wasn't such a bad thing. Yet the exterior was perfectly crispy. A nice textural contrast with the innards. The batter was well seasoned and worked well with the sweet corn, which had bite to it. The corn wasn't creamy - you could discern the actual kernels, which was a plus. The dipping sauce? Creamy decadence - well seasoned and spicy, reminiscent of chipotle peppers.

Farfalle with Chicken and Garlic ($16.95)
Bow-Tie Pasta, Chicken, Mushrooms, Tomato, Pancetta, Peas and Caramelized Onions in a Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Cream Sauce.

The GF ordered this decadent dish. This is one of three dishes I rotate through when I visit the Cheesecake Factory (the second I ordered for myself and the third is their burger). I always tell myself that I'll try something different, but I'm fixated on the comforting tastes offered by these dishes.

In any case, this farfalle pasta was redolent with roasted garlic and cream. Certainly not something you would eat before a beauty pageant - especially as the server tops your dish off with additional parmesan cheese. The pancetta and caramelized onions make the dish even richer. The tomatoes bring some acid to the dish, but it doesn't quite cut the heaviness of it (to be truthful, not by a long-shot and that's OK!). What makes the dish however? The simple peas - this was echoed by the GF as well.

Louisiana Chicken Pasta ($16.95) 
Parmesan Crusted Chicken Served Over Pasta with Mushrooms, Peppers and Onions in a Spicy New Orleans Sauce.  

This is easily my favorite of the two pastas. I'm pretty sure I have ordered this more than a dozen times. King of Prussia's outpost seems to use smaller pieces of chicken, but as you can see - the four cutlets offered atop this pasta are still hefty. The majority of the sauce is below the pasta, but as you spoon it atop the entire dish, the peppery and spicy kick from the 'New Orleans' sauce is pretty potent. Creamy in its own right - this dish is a bit lighter, but not my much. It's really the unexpected spiciness from the dish that you don't see in most pastas that makes it.

This dish is so good - that I've recreated it using this recipe - and it's almost as good! 

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake ($7.50)
White chocolate cheesecake swirled with chunks of chocolate peppermint bark, topped with white chocolate mousse and finished with chopped peppermint. 


The GF was really here for the restaurant's namesake dish - the cheesecake. They certainly have a variety of them - ranging from simple strawberry to decadent Red Velvet. For the holidays, they brought out peppermint bark, which we had to order, of course. GF's orders. We took this to go as we were stuffed from our entrees (which we ate maybe a quarter of). The next day, we dug in. Irresistibly creamy, with chunks of chocolate and peppermint throughout. The whipped cream is smooth, airy, and delicious. This iteration of cheesecake is available after Thanksgiving, through the holidays.

Overall, the Cheesecake Factory hit the spot once again. Service was impeccable and swift (once we sat down). Personable despite turning tables left and right.

Despite my own admitted gluttony, even I will admit that the Cheesecake Factory overdoes it and has exponentially contributed to America's obesity epidemic. But my master's degree in epidemiology be damned - I don't care. It's great heated up the next day - and for those of you who can't control yourselves. Get on a treadmill or learn portion control. I can't do the latter, so I settle for the former.

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