Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cheesecake Factory gets (a little bit) healthier

The Cheesecake Factory has made a major overhaul in its menu, with 14 new dishes, some of which it regards as healthful.

For four consecutive years, Men's Health magazine named the chain "America's Worst Restaurant." Here's what they had to say about the chain:

"No establishment better represents the confluence of factors that have saddled America with an ever-worsening obesity crisis. First, portion sizes are large enough to feed an NFL offensive line. Second, the use of cheap sources of flavor -- oils, butter, cream, salt, and sugar -- knows no limit. Finally, the percentage of dishes fit for consumption is absurdly small (we count 8 on a menu of more than 200 dishes)."

The 156-unit casual-dining chain has added five items to its line of SkinnyLicious dishes, which have fewer than 590 calories:

• SkinnyLicious Chicken Enchiladas in red chile sauce and melted cheese, served with escabeche vegetable salad, $11.95

• SkinnyLicious Pasta, twisted gemelli noodles with sautéed chicken, tomato, marinara sauce and basil, $11.95

• Island-Grilled Chicken, soy-glazed chicken breasts topped with macadamia nuts and served with vegetables and white rice, $14.50

• Shrimp Creole, simmered in spicy Tasso ham–tomato sauce with sautéed peppers, onions and garlic, served with white rice, $14.95

• Santorini Farro Salad, featuring an ancient grain of the Roman Empire whose popularity is currently spreading in the United States and Europe. Cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, red onion Feta cheese and tzatziki sauce and a vinaigrette dressing are included in the dish, which sells for $5.95.

In non-SkinnyLicious items, ethnic, comfort and regional dishes have been added:

• Papas Bravas, a classic Spanish dish of golden brown potatoes with garlic aïoli and a spicy sauce, for $4.95.

• Fresh Kale Salad with cranberries, apples, Marcona almonds and green beans, tossed with a buttermilk-black pepper dressing, for $5.95.

• Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich, covered with beer-marinated Swiss cheese, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, aïoli and arugula, and served on grilled brioche. Housemade tomato-bacon jam is served on the side. The dish is $11.95.

• Shrimp Toast Lollipops, breaded and fried, with ginger, garlic, green onion, cilantro and sesame oil for $6.95.

• Shrimp and Grits with spicy Tasso sauce, $6.95

• Sweet Corn-White Cheddar Grits, $5.95

• Green Chilaquiles with Carnitas and Eggs, slow-cooked pork with roasted poblano peppers, cheese, onions, cilantro and corn tortillas, garnished with tomatillo-chile sauce, tomato and sour cream. It sells for $11.95.

• Coffee Mocha Chip Shake: Coffee ice cream blended with chocolate chips, $6.95.

• Nutty Chocolate Marshmallow Shake: Chocolate shake embellished with marshmallow and toasted almonds, $6.95.

The Cheesecake Factory unit in the Capital Region is located at Colonie Center.

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