Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Restaurant Review: Cheesecake Factory at The Forum Shops (Caesars Palace)

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (front), Calamari (back)

Shrimp and Steak Diane 

Shrimp and Pasta

Cajun Jambalaya Pasta

I visited the Cheesecake Factory in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace during my March 2011 trip.  Even though it’s a chain, neither my mother nor my cousin had ever eaten at Cheesecake Factory before, so it was a good choice for a different meal that wasn't too pricey.  I told both of them it was similar to Grand Lux (in The Venetian) and had some of the same items, but they were willing to try some new dishes for me.  

This particular location is a two-story restaurant, allowing for more seating inside the restaurant as well as on their "patio" facing the indoor fountains and giant fish tank at the back of The Forum Shops.  It was pretty crowded inside, and there was a bit of a lineup out front at the hostess stand, but the wait was less than 5 minutes at almost 6 p.m., and we were seated in the main dining room downstairs.

For appetizers, we ordered fried calamari and Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls.  The fried calamari was perfectly fried in the usual tempura batter and served with a marina dipping sauce.  Mom and I loved the huge Summer Rolls, which came with two dipping sauces: a peanut sauce (too much like peanut butter) and a Hoisin sauce, which was delicious and slightly spicy.  We ended up only eating summer rolls with the Hoisin sauce, and left the peanut sauce alone.  

For drinks, my mom and cousin ordered red wine, and I decided on a white sangria.  Their wine selections were very tasty, but my sangria wasn’t very original or flavorful (it tasted totally like mix and not at all fruity).  The waiter offered to get me red sangria, but I declined.  It didn't seem as though he was willing to replace it for free, and I didn't feel like having another $8 charge on the bill for a second drink that I might or might not like, even if I wasn't the one paying.  I ate the fruit off of the skewer and enjoyed water with dinner, instead.

After looking at the menu, we decided to have dinner there instead of just having drinks and appetizers.  My cousin ordered the Shrimp Scampi and Steak Diane.   The scampi sauce was actually creamy AND buttery and we all tried it on everything, and her mashed potatoes were heavenly and full of garlic.  The sauce on the steak was a little too sweet for all of us, but the steak was cooked as she ordered it.  

My mom ordered the Cajun Jambalaya Pasta that contained shrimp and chicken and had a fantastic, spicy sauce on it.  It had to be the best Cajun sauce the three of us have ever tasted, and the waiter brought us an extra bowl so we could put it on EVERYTHING, which we did.  (For the record, the sauce is good on mashed potatoes, too.  Yes, we tried it.)  They have a lunch-sized portion available before 5 p.m., which probably would’ve been perfect, because this was way too big for any human to finish.  I think my mom ended up eating about half of it.  

I ordered Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta; the shrimp were jumbo-sized and very good, but the sauce was a little bland.  Good thing I had mom’s Cajun sauce!  I ate all the shrimp (dipped in Cajun sauce, of course) and left about half the pasta.  Looking back at the menu, I wish I'd tried their Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo, instead, as I debated between the two dishes for quite awhile.  

We were absolutely stuffed by the time we left the restaurant, and we hadn't managed to eat almost half of what we ordered.  We probably shouldn't have ordered the appetizers, but our original intention was to have appetizers only there, so how could we have known?  Maybe we should've ordered a third appetizer and skipped the entrees altogether, but then we wouldn't have had the chance to taste that delicious Cajun sauce, either.  

Our waiter was a bit of flake.  I think he was making jokes, but I wasn’t 100% sure if he was serious or not.  I tried not to engage him in conversation because he was a bit of an oddball, but he kept hovering when he'd come to check on us.  Very strange man.  The rest of the staff was great and everyone kept checking on us throughout the meal, clearing plates and refilling water glasses quickly.  My mom picked up the tab, but I saw the bill: $105.56 + tip for 3 of us with 3 drinks, 3 entrees and 2 appetizers is not bad at all.

If you can't make it for the lunch menu, which is served before 5 p.m., ask if you can share a plate for $2.50 extra.  It is an option for their entrees, and I never think about asking for this option at   most restaurants.  There are so many food choices, though, it's hard to make decisions even when it comes to my favorite type of food, seafood!

Overall, the food and service were good, but it was more of a "been there, done that" experience for me.  Next time, I think we might stick to the appetizers - as long as we can have some Cajun sauce for dipping!  I would rate this meal as a 7 out of 10.  Some parts of the meal were better than others, and some parts of the service were better than others. 

Hours of operation (very specific opening times, yes?):
Monday - Thursday, 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Friday - 11:10 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.
Saturday - 10:10 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.
Sunday - 10:10 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Phone: 702.792.6888


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