The Cheesecake Factory
Braintree, MA

Luau Chicken Salad
Fresh Slices of Grilled Chicken Breast Layered with Mixed Greens, Cucumbers, Green Onions, Red and Yellow Peppers, Green Beans, Mango and Crisp Wontons with Macadamia Nuts and Sesame Seeds. Tossed in Our Vinaigrette
Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

When my friend Meghan and I go out to dinner, this has sorta become “our place.” It’s in between us geographically, easy to get to, and we can generally predict the quality of both the service and the food. We went here for girls’ nite out dinner after my first wedding dress fitting in Providence.

What do I do after I find out that they need to take my dress in an inch or two? Eat myself silly.

Waitstaff was friendly if a little inattentive. Then again, I don’t usually clamour for attention. I don’t know about Meghan, but I certainly could have used a few refills on my lemonade as the evening wore on…I was parched. I could have at least used someone stopping by to ask how things were going, so I could ask for more lemonade or just a glass of ice water. I’ve been having a hankering for lemonade lately, and Cheesecake Factory’s lemonade hit the spot even if it was a little sweet for me. But I’ll never turn down a sugar-rimmed glass.

I do love the Luau Chicken salad. I wish it, and many of the Cheesecake Factory’s other salads, came in half portions even at dinnertime. Because if I haven’t eaten since dinner last night and you put that salad in front of me, I will eat all of it — and enjoy myself. The proportion of all the ingredients is usually spot-on, and they layer the salad creatively so it’s like a little adventure. From the top down: little pile of veggies, gigantic crispy wonton, veggies, gigantic crispy wonton, veggies, gigantic crispy wonton, veggies. Kudos on including mango in the salad, it’s an uncommon ingredient but there’s always something magical about it when it does turn up. There’s some sort of glaze on the wontons that make them absolutely addicting. Maybe a thick, sticky hoisin-style glaze?

It’s so good, in fact, that we both ordered it for our entrees. I usually don’t let that happen, if someone wants to order the same thing I want, I pick something else. But I knew how good this would taste so I stuck with it.

I hadn’t saved room for dessert, but I didn’t feel like letting that stop me.  They’ve got a 30th Anniversary cheesecake that seems to be some sort of cheesecake-chocolate cake hybrid, and it looked like it would send me in to sugar overload (and as I said, I hadn’t saved any room). I went with the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake, basically plain ol’ cheesecake with a couple of big fat juicy strawberries on top. I avoided the whipped cream because there’s always too much, and I ate the glazed strawberries first, then the outer crust, so that when I knew I couldn’t eat another bite, I would have already eaten the best parts and I wouldn’t feel so bad.