THANK GOD IT'S FRIED (PART 1)
October 17, 2013
THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:
Last night I took a friend out for his birthday. I told him we could go anywhere in the tri-state area! And he chose…The Cheesecake Factory.
I have no problem with the Cheesecake Factory, or the “CF” as I will refer to it. In fact, it is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I know that I live in New York City and there are tons of amazing restaurants at my disposal, but there is something about the comfort and familiarity of a chain restaurant that no SoHo bistro or Greenwich Village café can replace.
So, we arrive at the Cheesecake Factory at a mall in New Jersey. No matter what time I go to the CF, there is a wait. I could go at 11:05am on a Monday or 10:30pm on a Sunday, I still will have to wait at least ten minutes for a table, leaving me sit in those uncomfortable booths starting at a bakery case filled with at least 25 different types of cheesecake. If this is their marketing strategy, they are doing a fantastic job.
Once sat, I opened up the novel that is the menu and started to peruse the wine and appetizer pages. I decided on a glass of Sav Blanc for reasons unknown to me, while my friend got a mojito. I like getting an appetizer because I am always starving when I get to a restaurant and want to eat immediately, but appetizers are both a blessing and a curse. We decided on the spinach and artichoke dip, you know, to be healthy.
Now that the drinks and appetizer were in, the next obstacle was choosing an entrée. If you have never been to a Cheesecake Factory, first of all, what the hell? GO! Secondly, there are over 85 meal selections. And I say that with no exaggeration. Usually to save time, I order either one of my two “go-to” dinners: the Crispy Chicken Costeletta or the Fettuccini With Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes.
These are the only two meals I have ever had from the CF, and I love them both. I get nervous when trying new food, but last night for some odd reason (I think it was the Dayquil) I was feeling a little dangerous and wanted to live on the edge. So, I went to pages of the menu I had never ventured before, and this is where I saw it. This is where my life dramatically changed. There, on page 18, read my meal for the evening: The Macaroni and Cheese Burger.
I will take a minute to let that sink in for all of you.
No? More time? Okay.
Alright, so the menu description reads: Charbroiled and topped with our Creamy Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls andCheddar Cheese Sauce. Served with Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Onion and Mayo.
WHO WOULDN’T ORDER THAT?!
So, I placed my order with the waitress and I could tell I was in for a treat by the her reaction. “Ohhh yeah!” she said while giving me the thumbs up.
You know how I mentioned earlier (2 paragraphs up) that appetizers are a blessing and a curse? The are a blessing because they are deliciously fried to perfection, usually come in a fun little basket, and great to share. They are a curse because you fill up so fast and when your meal comes, you don’t think you could fit another bite of food in. These are struggles I have to deal with every day.
But, to my avail, when my cheeseburger topped with fried macaroni and cheese with sweet potato fries arrived, it was like those 3 loaves of bread and spinach dip never even happened.
Look at all that meat. Look at all that cheese.
I sat there, in completely awe of this miraculous concoction sitting in front of me. I didn’t even know where to begin. Do I put ketchup and mayo on it? Will that just ruin the entire thing? Do I want to maybe add a piece of onion or tomato, so I don’t feel like a complete fat ass? Well, I said yes to the mayo and no to the veggies.
I would describe my first bite as entering into a land where your taste buds and senses are on overkill. It was very similar to ecstasy or molly, just without the glow sticks. The burger was so juicy and tender, the macaroni was so fried and cheesy. And the sauce they poured on top of the whole burger? Magic.
I ate half of the burger in probably a minute and a half, but then I had to put it down and take a breather. It was just…TOO cheesy and TOO rich. I ended up taking it off the bun and fork-and-knifed it.
All in all, I was satisfied with my dinner choice. Will I order this again? Probably not. I did what I wanted to do – I tried something different – but sometimes your two favorite things in life should not be combined. Like vodka and bacon. Or ham and oreos.