My kids had been to the Cheesecake Factory when they visited the US in April and as it was Miss 13’s birthday, and we were in San Francisco, she asked if we could go here for dinner. What an experience! The restaurant is on the top floor of the Macy’s building, and it is decorated in very ornate style – almost Renaissance in its colours and painting. The tables are either booths, or in our case, a half-circle booth around a table, with little mirrors all around at head height. The serving staff were excellent – very prompt and personable, and even knew about cross-contamination of foods. They even had Bards Gluten-Free beer – which turned out to be a pleasant brew – on their menu as a standard item.
The menu looked amazing – eighteen pages of possible food options. This is the menu that said on page one, in small print, to consult with your waiter if you had any food allergies. And this is where it all went drastically downhill. I duly consulted with my waiter, who told me that the only things they could guarantee were completely gluten-free were the salads. Eighteen pages of menu items, and the only things available for the gluten-intolerant were salads. I checked the salads and there were about 5 that I could eat (that didn’t include wheat in some way). A couple more could be modified. So possibly seven or eight dishes in EIGHTEEN PAGES of items. And absolutely NO labelling to indicate whether a dish was, or could be, gluten-free. Now people, I appreciate that the USA is a place where you can sue, and maybe that means that you had better not put gluten-free on your menus in case someone has a bad reaction to it, but really!!! How is a person to cope, short of having to spend half an hour sending the waiter to and from the kitchen?
As it happens, the waiter couldn’t tell me whether the BBQ sauce on the salmon was gluten-free, although he did tell me the onion rings were battered and touched the salmon. He recommended that I go with the grilled salmon for safety. That was good information. I decided to chance it anyway, and had the salmon on a corn and zucchini salad with mashed potatoes. My husband benefited from the onion rings.
On the plus side, the food was very fresh and plentiful, and it was a good meal. On the downside, my salad and mashed potatoes were extremely peppery. I didn’t risk any of the cheesecakes – partly the lack of labelling, partly the high whole egg content. I did have a little taste of the husband’s (Key Lime) and daughter’s (Macadamia and white chocolate) though and they were sublime.
So all in all, the dining experience wasn’t outstanding, but at least the waiters were concerned and informed. I didn’t even wince too much at the 18% tip which was automatically added to our bill.