For years, one of the most famous restaurant chains across America, never had a location in Michigan, so we got used to the idea of at least having a fast lunch at least once a trip to Las Vegas, especially since we could walk over there from our hotel/casino. I am talking about The Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory actually had its roots in Detroit, Evelyn Overton found a recipe for a cheesecake in one of the local papers. Her take on the recipe was a hit, and she once had plans to open a shop, but the reality of raising a family took precedence. Though she did continue making cheesecakes and had converted her basement into a baking kitchen. In 1972, after being empty nesters, Evelyn and her husband Oscar decided to move to Los Angeles, California and see if she could fulfill her dream. With hard work and diligence, she was up to twenty different cheesecakes and some other desserts that she was selling to other restaurants. Her son David, decided to open a restaurant to feature the large selection of cheesecakes and desserts. In 1978, the original restaurant opened in Beverly Hills, California and now they have over two-hundred locations, both locally and abroad.
In my past life, I had always heard about the restaurant and how they had a certain animosity towards potential investors in Detroit, and that is why they never opened in their home town, and when they did, they opened not where everyone expected them to open. Memories are long. If you have never been to The Cheesecake Factory and if you have, you know that you are given a book and not a menu to decipher. I have never been in the restaurant industry, but I had always heard that one should keep the menu, short and sweet; not only do they not follow that advice, but they offer their take on international dishes, and everything is fresh and made in house. Also, I would recommend that you go hungry, as they don’t skimp on the portions, the concept of nouveau-cuisine is not part of their vocabulary. They don’t get flustered with requests or changes, and they even understand the concept of sharing. My Bride had a half-sandwich of chicken-almond salad and a side Caesar salad (which was about the size of a Caesar salad as an entrée in some restaurants). I had their Bacon-Bacon Cheeseburger covered with Cheddar and American Cheese, Crispy Bacon and Thick-Cut Slow Roasted Smoked Bacon and their “Secret Sauce” with a side of Sweet Potato Fries for my Bride. We split our choices and were very happy. We never have a problem getting a table there, because our late lunch is considered a very early lunch on the West Coast.
Part of the book that they call a menu, also contains some cocktails, beer and a wine list. Just like their food menu, they have a wine carte that is better than some dinner restaurants we have been to. With all of the choices I chose a couple of glasses of their “house wines” for us to have with lunch. I know it sounds rather daring, as there is no mention in the wine carte of the actual winery used for each wine, we had The Cheesecake Factory Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 2018 and The Cheesecake Factory Merlot California 2017. The Cheesecake Factory Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 2018 was made for them by Columbia Crest Winery of Paterson, Washington. Columbia Crest Winery was established in 1983 and their first wine release was in 1984. Columbia Crest is one of the largest wineries in Washington, along with their parent company Chateau Ste. Michelle. The winery has a several tiers of wines, but the bulk of their business is in the popular price range and I never have a problem selecting a wine from this winery, if it is one of my choices. This was a nice crisp, very easy drinking Pinot Grigio and it made my Bride happy with her lunch. The Cheesecake Factory Merlot California 2017 is made by Beringer Vineyards of Sonoma, California. Beringer has the honor of being the longest continuously operating winery in California. They have a range of offerings from affordable generic table wines to single-vineyard cuvées and a private reserve label. Brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer had their first harvest in 1976 in what is now St. Helena AVA. Frederick built his Rhine House, a Victorian mansion in 1883 which is now the main visitor building at the winery. This home was added to the US National Register for Historic Places. They even survived Prohibition, the first dismal nanny-state disaster, by getting a Federal License and producing sacramental altar wine. After Prohibition, they were the first winery to offer public tours which was the start of making Napa Valley a tourist destination. In the 70’s Beringer was bought by Nestlé, and then it changed hands a couple of more times and is now owned by Treasury Wine Estates, which also owns among other labels Penfolds and Stags’ Leap. In 2015, Mark Beringer became the Chief Winemaker and he is the great-great-grandson of Jacob Beringer. While Beringer owns vineyards in Napa and Sonoma as well as their leased vineyards are all certified sustainable. Since, I have always been partial to Merlot wines, a well-made popular priced wine, especially with a burger is fine with me, and there are often times when I want a burger and a glass of wine. The walk back to the hotel, may have been a bit slower, than the walk there.