The ever-popular Cheesecake Factory opened up in Toronto over the past couple weeks, greeted by hundreds of hungry customers awaiting the mouth-watering cheesecakes that the chain is known for across the United States and among traveling Canadians. The restaurant, located in Yorkdale Mall, conveniently close to both highways and subway, is the Cheesecake Factory’s first venture into the true north. It is very similar to its American predecessors, even sporting the same colours and restaurant theming as the restaurants down south. And, in keeping true to its origins, Toronto’s Cheesecake Factory provides a filling meal that will ensure you will be full all the way home. However, the restaurant falls short in the way of convenience and service.
The Cheesecake Factory line for sit-down is broken up into two sections. First, you have to line up to get onto the seating list, which takes about 45 minutes. You are mostly standing around inside of Yorkdale (where the line is) but it doesn’t feel like that long. The staff is able to efficiently enter people into the system, creating a relatively constant and consistent flow of people. Once inputted into their computer, you are given a buzzer which allows you to roam around the mall before being called back to the restaurant for dining. It’s a smart system, and although I waited another 1.5 hours before being called back, it didn’t feel like that long of a wait. Mostly because I could browse the shops in the mall. It’s important to note I was a group of three. For larger groups, the wait times can increase drastically. As the holidays are approaching, lines won’t’ be going down anytime soon. If you want to go here for a dinner, I would plan according to the wait times.
The food was fantastic, as it always is at the Cheesecake Factory. I had the Steak Diane w/ Shrimp Scampi, accompanied by a half & half lemonade, with two slices of cheesecake for dessert (more on that later.) The steak and shrimp were well done, allowing me to savour tastes from both land and sea. The sauces that came with the dish were well balanced to their respective foods, and when eaten with either the shrimp or steak created a wonderful mixture of flavour in my mouth. As with almost any good thing, it did have its downsides (or more accurately, in this case, downside) however. The mash potatoes that came with the dish were extremely grainy and had a consistency very similar to that of a crushed up cookie that has been in your mouth too long. The lemonade was great, and I suspect that it had been poured directly from an Arnold Palmer bottle (I’m not complaining though because it was free refills.) My dinner went smoothly in terms of flavours and tastes, but the delivery of food took what felt like forever. It took two hours for us to finally get our food, which can be a testament to how busy, and therefore chaotic, the restaurant is. We were however given four free slices of cheesecake to make up for the wait, so we had no hard feelings towards the restaurant at the end of our meal.
I won’t say anything about the cheesecake, other than it truly is great, and I would encourage you to go and get a slice yourself. The long lines and vast menu may seem intimidating at first, but as I found out this past Sunday, it is well worth it.