RE: The 'BIG' News in Cincinnati: Cheesecake Factory
Several years ago, my boss and and a number of people on our staff went to lunch at a Cheesecake Factory in the Washington, D.C. area. My boss ordered a salad and an entree. When the waitress brought his salad, my boss found a large, green caterpiller in it, happily munching away on the lettuce. He brought this to the attention of the waitress, who, of course, apologized profusely and brought my boss another salad. The management also offered to give my boss his lunch for free, but he declined.
Now, I'm not a particularly squeamish person or a picky eater. My parents own a farm in rural Maryland and have a garden and an orchard. I have often found worms in their apples and corn (they don't use pesticides), and I just cut out the bad parts and eat the rest. In fact, I have come to view the presence of these creatures as something of a positive -- if eating the food in question hasn't killed them, it probably won't harm me. So I would not have freaked had I been in my boss' shoes, and I believe to his credit, neither did he (although I would have accepted the free lunch offer!). But what this showed me was that, at least at this Cheesecake Factory, someone back in the kitchen was not doing a good job of cleaning the produce.
As for the food as a whole, I found it ordinary at best, and I am amazed that a food critic in a fairly large city like Cincinnati would find it noteworthy. In my view, it isn't even the best restaurant chain around, taking a back seat to places like Pappadeux Seafood Kitchen, Houston's and Maggiano's. Yes, the cheesecake is good and they have a lot of different kinds, but you can get cheesecake that is just as good or better at any number of bakeries or other restaurants. Probably the most telling comment I can make about the quality of the food at the Cheesecake Factory that I ate at is that I have absolutely no memory of what I or any of my colleagues had, except for my boss' salad with that extra bit of protein!