The Cheesecake Factory
The Marketplace at Garden State Park
931 Haddonfield Road
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Meal: Dinner for Four
Website/Menu: Cheesecake Factory
Cherry Hill is pretty well known as an upscale southern New Jersey suburb. Even people who aren’t too familiar with the geography of the state have heard of it. That may have had a lot to do with the twin icons for the town, the Cherry Hill water tower (complete with cherry logo) and the Cherry Hill Mall-the oldest covered one in the nation. Well the Water Tower has been repainted to a little more sedate style, and the cherry logo is gone. The mall is also undergoing some renewal as well. As a town that never really had a sense of place, there really isn’t any downtown, it was with great excitement that the former Garden State Park became available as a pseudo-central core. While no one will confuse the redeveloped Garden State Park with say Moorestown, what has been built is a place where a broader range of people will visit and coalesce.
The Cheesecake Factory, now with 5 locations in New Jersey, is rightly a nationally recognized “chain” of restaurants. Your reviewers visit there was a post birthday get together with long time friends and this was my first visit to the redeveloped “Park”. Upon first blush the sight of the “Park” recalled for a moment Center Square in Mount Laurel, with a long linear expanse of stores. However passing this initial part the other buildings were laid out a little bit better, and there were some nice bricked walks, lighting and seating. Ample free parking is available, but we forewarned that this is a popular establishment and they don’t take reservations. So if you don’t want a terribly long wait to be seated, opt for non-crush hour dining times or come during the work week. Our Saturday visit saw us arrive about 4PM and it was almost immediate seating. The interior is pretty large, airy and reminiscent of art deco meets modern. Complimenting the bricks and mortar are the enthusiastic servers, who never seem to be burdened by carrying endless dishes of the namesake dessert. More often than not you’ll see plenty of smiles, and the acoustics are such that you will hear pretty much everyone else. There are small tables, larger tables and booth seating.
Our server was fairly timely in taking our beverage orders, ranging from a glass of white wine (later change to a Martini due to the less than clean wine glass) to ice teas and a diet soda. A nice basket of brown bread and sourdough bread followed shortly thereafter. The menu is “daunting” in its offerings, and your reviewer will depart from the usual practice of listing some examples. Pretty much anything in beef, poultry, pasta, seafood, salads and “combinations” can be found. For our table the selections were Beer Battered Fish & Chips ($15.50), Factory Burrito Grande ($13.95), Crispy Chicken Costoletta ($15.95) and Shrimp Scampi ($18.95). While we enjoyed our beverages we make quick work of the bread, and requested another basket. It took a bit before that came but the place was starting to fill up pretty quickly.
As is well known to any who have eaten at the Cheesecake Factory, you get quality plus quantity. Your reviewer’s Chicken Costoletta was actually three pieces, and the Burrito was muy “Grande”. The other two entrees were not lacking either. I’d hate to have been the person peeling those potatoes for the French fries. My chicken was sufficiently warm, and crispy; it was not so crispy that I was at risk for breaking a tooth which I appreciated. The mashed potatoes were home made and the Asparagus was cooked just right. One of my companions found the “Burrito” was more rice than chicken, and was a bit disappointed. Not so much so, however, that every morsel wasn’t eaten. The other two folks seemed to enjoy their meals as well. I noticed another patron at the table next to me had ordered the meatloaf…..it was more a mound loaf, it looked like 4 double sized pieces happily swimming in gravy. As remarkable as it seems there was still room for dessert, after all the best was yet to come. Another Martini served as a dessert substitute, while the other three chose a Key Lime Cheesecake (very tart), a Raspberry Lemon (very light) and a Peanut Butter Fudge (very dense and heavy). Most of the cheesecakes ranged from $6.50 to $7.95. There are other alternatives such as the Specialty Desserts including Fudge Cake, Warm Apple Crisp, Lemoncello Cream Torte and Tiramisu among the choices. Hot drinks and Espresso compete for your attention as does the selection of Iced and Frozen Drinks. It is best to come to the Cheesecake Factory after you have been to the gym, or after a long walk. But whatever you do, please go and of course enjoy!
Pop Pop’s Score: 3.25 Chews
Subjective rating: Good.
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