Say Cheese!

The Cheesecake Factory
Ground Level, Near the Aquarium,
The Dubai Mall, 
Downtown Dubai, Dubai

09th June, 2013

“It’s been a long time without you my friend…”

My trips to Dubai (and I think I’ve mentioned this before) have always been about meeting with friends. This year was a little more special. Prior to my coming to Dubai, we had planned to have a mini-reunion (just like the cast of FRIENDS always have), and naturally we decided to have it at one of Dubai’s latest top trending restaurants.

Dubai, one of the cities that never sleeps, is also one of the city that always changes. Now, I normally travel to Dubai once every six months, so nothing should really surprise me. Except there is always something that does. I swear (by the Old Gods and the New) there have been many times when I have looked outside the window of a plane and wondered “Have we taken a wrong turn somewhere?” or “I don’t remember this being here”.

So living 5,000 miles away, it was really hard to figure out which was the new “IT” place to Hang Out and Chill (which was popular before Netflix and Chill). With the help of my Dubai Habibis, we were able to narrow down our restaurant to ‘The Cheesecake Factory’.

(From left to right) : Fahad Hussain; Rahul Shetty; Suraj Kumar; Naeem Sheikh; Aaron D’ Silva; Shoeb Shaikh; Pradyumn Krishnan

Located on the ground floor of The Dubai Mall (prime property), The Cheesecake Factory rarely has had a quiet night. Given that the restaurant had only recently been opened in Dubai, it was of no surprise to anyone that crowds had gathered beyond the eye could see, reminding me of biryani joints on Ramadan evenings. 

7:30 p.m. – We landed at the entrance of the restaurant (without reservations, obviously!), hoping to find an empty table with our names on it. As we expected, we were given a waiting period of 30 minutes. To some, this would mean 30 minutes of aimless wandering around, window shopping and impatient foot tapping. To us, this was an opportunity to take pictures (NOT SELFIES!).

8:00 p.m. – Our vibrator rung. I’m sorry, I’m sure that sounded wrong. I meant the vibrating device that the restaurant had given….I apologize again. I don’t think that made it any clearer. The receptionist at the restaurant called us. We were seated at the table and the first thought that popped into my head was ‘The waiters don’t look like THAT! (refer to picture on the left)’ The ambience was nothing different from what I have seen in most restaurants, though the lighting was slightly on the dimmer side, which made it awfully painful to read the menus. 

As we were on a tight budget (some of us were still studying, mind you!), we decided to order 3 dishes and share them. It didn’t take us too long to order, despite the expansiveness of the menu. The Chicken Di Pana; the Chicken Madeira; and the Cajun Jambalaya Pasta (hold the Shrimp!). Our wait for the dishes wasn’t too long, or at least we didn’t feel the wait as we were busy taking too many pictures – After all it was our reunion! With the number of flashes going about, I wouldn’t have been surprised if people thought a celebrity was in town.

(From back left to front) : The Chicken Di Pana; The Cajun Jambalaya; and the Chicken Madeira

8:20 p.m. – The dishes arrived. To warn those looking to try ‘The Cheesecake Factory’, the dishes are American style. So unless you have an appetite the size of Andre the Giant, it would be safe to say that one dish is large enough for two people.  Surprisingly for a restaurant that has ‘Cheese’ in its name, the dishes weren’t too cheesy. The Chicken Madeira was probably the best dish on the table. The Madeira sauce accentuated the moistness of the Chicken, while the Mashed Potatoes, with traces of potato skin left behind, was probably one of the best I have ever had and has served as a benchmark (even today!). The Jambalaya was not as spicy as was advertised in the menu, but was delicious all the same. Probably the only let down was the Di Pana, which I felt was quite dry. At the end of the meal, we probably felt more hungry than we thought we would be (we even thought of going to a McDonalds after this!). But that’s before we ordered dessert!

(From left to front) : The Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake; The Vanilla Bean Cheesecake; The Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

8:50 p.m. – The waiters cleared the table and handed the dessert menus to us. We weren’t surprised to find around 30 varieties of cheesecake. The little kid inside of me wanted to try out all of them, but cooler heads prevailed, and so in going with the theme of ‘3’, we decided to order the Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake, the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake, and the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. When they arrived, boy were they beautiful! Topped with a mountain of whipped cream, looking at them, my tummy knew it was in for one good treat. Each cheesecake was as fluffy, delicious, mouth-watering as the next. By the time we were done with dessert, our tummies had grown an inch outward, and we had to think of the possibility of our chairs accompanying us back home tonight! Our thoughts of going to McDonalds after dinner had vanished.

The Cheesecake Factory ended up being ‘Satis-Factory’! (Sorry, I had to make at least ONE cheesy pun!)

Dinner at The Cheesecake Factory is always a guilty pleasure. But what it is also, is a wake-up call…a reminder to go to the gym! Would I go back again any time soon? For the Cheesecake, definitely! For the food, well if I do, I’ll make sure not to eat anything for breakfast and lunch.  

The Cheesecake Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato