The Cheesecake Factory in Canada!
FINALLY! CANADA NOW HAS A CHEESECAKE FACTORY!
If you can’t tell, like many other Canadians, I am excited for the first Canadian location (although the Buffalo location is closer for me). I don’t know why it took so long but better late than never!
The Cheesecake Factory in Canada is located in Toronto within in the Yorkdale mall. It’s beside the Pickle Barrel, for those familiar with the mall. I went with my friend Susan on the second day of its opening. The hours vary depending on the day, which you can find here. Because it was the second day of opening, we arrived at 10AM to get a good spot in line – we were about 10th! The line for dining in was placed inside the mall and for takeout, the line was at the outside entrance. When it was time for the doors to open at 11:30AM, we were seated about 5 minutes after (not too bad!)
From the outside the restaurant may look big but it’s not that big. About a third of the place is taken up by the kitchen that’s somewhat of an open concept, and another part is for takeout. So if you’re wondering why it’s taking so long, there’s not as much seating as you’d expect.
The interior is very much like the locations in the U.S. – the yellow/orange/brown tones that resonates throughout. There are booths and tables for seating.
The menu also is designed the same way at the States. I did notice that it’s pretty much like the menu in the States but the website does say there might be minor differences. They also have the Skinny Menu, if you’re into that. You can check out the menu for the Toronto location here
Like the States, complimentary bread and butter is always given to start off your meal.
Warm Crab and Artichoke Dip – $15.50
“A Delicious Blend of Crab, Artichokes and Cheese Served Warm with Grilled Bread”
We started off with the Warm Crab and Artichoke Dip. Like the description, it was served with sliced of grilled bread. The bread itself was really grilled/toasted. I find that’s the case with every restaurant that serves a dip with bread, so it wasn’t a huge deal to me.
The dip itself was delicious. The top of it was nicely baked to a crisp; it was warm like it said, cheesy, and full of crab and artichoke. There wasn’t a great abundance of crab but it was enough that you could taste it with almost every bite. The cheese mixed with the crab gave it that comfort-food feel that was perfect for a cold fall/winter’s day.
Chicken Piccata – Lunch Special $16.95
“Sauteed Chicken Breast with Lemon Sauce, Mushrooms and Capers. Served with Angel Hair Pasta”
I decided to order something I’ve already tried in the States so that it’d be easier to compare. Also, I had been craving any kind of Angel Hair pasta. This particular dish came in both the lunch ($16.95) and dinner size ($23.95). I went for the lunch size because if it’s anything like the States, the lunch size is pretty big.
The lemon sauce is the first thing you will make note of with this dish. My gosh does it pack quite a punch! The chicken was nicely sauteed; it was tender and not dry. The chicken was slightly pre-cut into pieces but not all the way through – I thought that was a bit peculiar. The mushrooms and capers complemented the chicken and sauce well, giving it that creamy feel. I did notice little peas mixed throughout the sauce.
There’s not much to say about the Angel Hair pasta. It was pretty generic but once it was mixed well with the lemon sauce… de-licious.
Here’s what the dish looked like when I ordered it in Vegas last year (below). As you can see, it’s pretty much the same.
Taste-wise the dish was similar. The only difference I could tell, or remember, was that the Vegas location had a much milder and lighter lemon sauce. The Toronto location, like I mentioned, really packed that lemon flavour. So other than that, it tasted the same to me.
My friend Susan ordered the Truffle-Honey Chicken ($22.95). This dish is described on the menu as ”Fried Chicken Breast with Truffle-Honey, Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes”. I would like everyone to note how huge this dish is. It is meant to feed two people. I did have a bite of the chicken and it was nicely tender, not dry, and the drizzle of honey adds a touch of sweetness, softening the harsh crispness of the chicken.
Toasted Marshmallow S’Mores Galore – $9.95
“Hershey’s® Cheesecake Topped with Housemade Marshmallow and Honey Maid® Graham Crackers”
If you’re into decadent tasting cheesecakes, this one is for you. The chocolate has layers to it: it goes from sweet to bitter. I’m assuming there’s dark and milk chocolate used. For me, the bottom chocolate base layer made it too chocolatey for my liking. It was bitter but somehow increased the sweetness of the overall cheesecake.
The marshmallow and the graham crackers were the best part. They were just the right amount of sweetness and for me, were the most bearable parts of this cheesecake.
White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake – $9.95
“White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Swirled with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel on a Blonde Brownie Crust”
When you order something with macadamia nuts, you think, “Oh, there will be a bit of actual macadamia nuts in this.” NOT WITH THIS CAKE. I think I ate my lifetime’s worth of macadamia nuts from this. Looking at the middle section of the cheesecake, you’ll notice a whole chunk of macadamia nuts just sitting there, waiting to be eaten. If I had known this prior to ordering it, I would have changed my mind. I don’t really like to chew when eating cheesecakes. I like the smooth, silky, creaminess of cheesecakes but the macadamia nuts ruined that experience.
It’s not a bad cheesecake but all I could really taste was the macadamia nuts. The white chocolate does make the cake superbly sweet. So if you’re not big on sweet cheesecakes, I’d take a pass on this.
White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake – $9.95
“Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with White Chocolate and Raspberry”
I apologize for the horrible photo. I had gotten this to-go and shopped around after, so it melted and broke 🙁
Out of all the cheesecakes I tried, this was my favourite. It had that thick, sweet, creamy cheesecake taste and feel. It was exactly what I wanted in a cheesecake. The raspberry swirled in added some tart to the thick cream cheese. The only part I could taste of the white chocolate were the ones sprinkled on top, so I don’t think it’s blended within the cheesecake.
It also had a truffle cookie-like crust which was delicious. It tasted really similar to an Oreo and it just worked so well with the cheesecake. I would for sure order this again.
Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake – $9.95
“Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse”
Again, I apologize for the horrible photo. I had gotten this to-go and shopped around after, so it melted and broke.
This particular cheesecake, maybe because it melted/softened, tasted like a combination of regular sponge cake and a cheesecake. It could be from the Lady Fingers but it felt weird to me texture wise. My mouth was like, “Is it a regular cake or a cheesecake?”
There is a hint of lemon-it’s not overpowering (unlike that lemon sauce) which is nice. I did taste more of the lemon than the raspberry. Even though this one is also a creamy raspberry cheesecake, it wasn’t as creamy as the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake.
CANADA vs. USA
If you’re Canadian, you must be wondering, how does it fare with our neighbours south of the border? Is the price the same? Taste? And most importantly are the portions the same?
I actually found an important detail when I told our waitress that I chose my dish because I had it prior in Vegas. The waitress told me that they made sure that everything was exactly like the U.S. flagships, since that’d be the main criticism. This I definitely noticed when looking at the menu, considering I was able to find my dish ordered back in Vegas.
Price wise I would say it’s at most at a $2-$3 difference, after converting from USD to CAD. And that’s expected with everything that comes from the U.S. to Canada. If I recall, the cheesecake in the States were $7.95 to $8.95 USD. The cost for the Canada location is $8.50-$9.95 CAD. So for the cheesecakes, the price is pretty much the same.
As for taste, like I previously mentioned, it was pretty much the same as when I last had the Cheesecake Factory in Vegas, even when ordering the same dish. Portions are dead on as well. And it’s great that they brought over the Lunch, Dinner, and Skinny Menu sizes.
In all my years of dining in restaurants, I’ve had my fair share of good and bad customer service. During my time at the Canadian Cheesecake Factory, I have nothing but pleasant things to say.
Our waitress was super nice. She kept us updated and informed us of when to order our cheesecakes because it was getting busier. Even though it took us a while to order and get through our meals, she did not give us a hard time or try to rush us.
We knew service was getting backed up quickly and understood if our meals would be taking longer than normal. We actually thought nothing of it in the beginning because we know that depending on what you order, it takes time to cook. For our Warm Crab and Artichoke Dip, the manager actually came over to us to apologize for our wait. It was so unexpected because we didn’t even notice that it took that long.
The fact that the manager came to us without any complaint and/or concerns from us shows how dedicated they are to providing a good customer experience. Having worked in Customer Service for about six years, I know what that means to the company and the customer.
Is the Cheesecake Factory so amazing that you need to rush to the first Canadian location? Truthfully, no. Is it tasty and all that I hoped it to be from the States? Yes and yes. If you’re desperate to try it, then I say go for it. Just be prepared for a long wait.
If you had the chance to try it out already, I’d love to hear what you thought!