CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
The Cheesecake Factory in Lebanon: The First Experience (Restaurant Closed)
The Cheesecake Factory: Beirut’s Trendy Diner (Restaurant Closed)
Last Lunch at The Cheesecake Factory Beirut; Closing on April 30th (Restaurant Closed)
The Cheesecake Factory Closes in Beirut: Goodbye to Another Franchise (Restaurant Closed)
My first review of The Cheesecake Factory was on opening night and the experience was simply great. Tonight I'm back because my wife wanted to try it and because I had heard mixed reviews about the food and service.
A restaurant, fully loaded, offers a nice, cozy interior, warm yellow lights and soothing background music. Reach the entrance and go straight to the reception. The hostess will take you up to the first floor where the restaurant is located. Couches and chairs, the bar, high tables, reflective marble tables, a spotlight over every table and wooden walls creating private corners.
On the table is a cutlery set, and believe me you will feel as if you're in a fine dining restaurant. It's a diner with a touch of finesse, that finesse we miss in almost all diners. A white table napkin, two forks, a knife and a spoon. A small bread plate, salt and pepper pourers and a lamp. Dinner starts with a bread basket and President butter. We started with a huge glass of Coca-Cola Light.
I'll skip the little details like describing the menu and its content. Tonight we were here to enjoy the food and experience. For more info, please read the previous review.
Tonight we were served by Bassel. I appreciated the sweet brown bread to start with. Two refills of Coke already and I was enjoying every part of the experience.
We started with some appetizers that were served in less than 10 minutes;
- Factory Nachos LBP23,500: Crisp tortillas covered with melted cheeses, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions and salsa. They are different from any nachos you've had before. They are thicker and crunchier, way more oily, a bit of cheese and salsa. They feel more like bread than thin and crunchy nachos, but I like them. The advantage of the thickness is that they don't break under the weight of the toppings while dipping.
- Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Freshly Baked Pizzetta LBP10,000: Its succulent and only $7! A superb pizza, a thin dough that's not watery, a crunchy edge, lots of cheese and some sweet pears, crunchy pecans and caramelized onions. That's a lovely plate served on a wooden board.
- Spicy Tempura Shrimp LBP16,500: A plate filled with fried tempura shrimp, a dozen of them, making each cost less than a dollar. A lightly spicy dynamite sauce covering the plate adds some flavor. Crunchy like you would expect, they're tender in the middle, you'll enjoy them.
Afterwards came the main plates:
- Macaroni and Cheese Burger LBP24,750: Charbroiled and topped with creamy fried macaroni and cheese balls and cheddar cheese sauce served with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. It's an excellent burger. A tender bread at the bottom topped with a premium quality meat that really tastes meaty, with a fine juiciness, the fried macaroni cheese makes this burger special and there's another top bun that's lightly battered and toasted. Add tomatoes, pickles and lettuce and enjoy. The burger is delicious as it is, eat every ingredient alone and you'll enjoy them as well. Nothing is hidden and nothing smothers any individual element. Perfect bread, delicious meat, simply add lots of ketchup to add some sweetness.
- Santa Fe Salad LBP32,500: Marinated chicken, fresh corn, black beans, cheese, tortilla strips, tomato, romaine lettuce with a spicy peanut cilantro vinaigrette. Generously filled, the salad has an enjoyable texture, a new flavor, an interesting salad, but watch out, it contains a lot of garlic.
- The Club LBP28,750: Freshly roasted turkey breast, beef bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and white toast. It should be named the "Too Much Club". Too much of everything spoils the experience and the sandwich; at 15 centimeters thick, it's hard to bite into. A quadruple layer of turkey, three layers of thick tomato, an overdose of mayonnaise and the vegetables. Remove a bit of everything and believe me you'll enjoy it, because the turkey, sweet pickles and ingredients are good. As for the beef bacon, a disaster! A super thick, extremely hard, tooth-breaking bacon that doesn't bring any added value to the sandwich. That's a plate to restructure and reconsider.
After dinner came cheesecake time. We were offered wet towels to refresh while we ordered three cakes. One low carb to check the flavor difference, the carrot cake to know if the cakes are as good as the cheesecakes and something we'd been craving.
- White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake LBP13,250: That's a killer. Real cheesecake flavors with lots of crunchy macadamia and a double mountain of whipped cream.
- Low Carb Cheesecake made with Splenda and Graham-Walnut Crust LBP11,250: Bizarre! Next time you want to enjoy a cheesecake, do it the right way.
- Carrot Cake LBP15,000: My favorite of all. A delicious, moist and tender carrot cake, but the sweet and heavy version of it. Sugar, butter, icing... It is indeed heavy, but delicious.
- We didn't really eat much, tasting the plates we felt full. Order wisely, the portions are huge.
- We are in 2016, the era of Internet and social media, the age of Instagram and sharing pictures of food. Those extremely yellowish lights make the food look weird and that can reflect badly the image of the restaurant. Add more lights, improve the color.
- We are in "Lebanon": Speak Arabic with your guests.
Good service and good food... Most importantly great prices. A place I like and will come back to again.