As much as I love originality, there’s something comforting about falling back onto known territory. Although eccentric french cafes and family-run diners may receive acclaim for their truly distinct tastes and flavors, when it comes to eating gluten-free, chain restaurants are a safe haven like no other. This may seem surprising and of course, there are exceptions, but all in all, I stand by that statement.
They are reliable. Earlier this month in Providence, I rediscovered The Cheesecake Factory. Because of their infamous “no reservations” policy, I had kept my distance these last few years. And prior this gap, I had terrible experience with their gluten-free options, but I suppose that was a different era- when people were in the dark as to what “gluten-free” meant. Anyways, I was delightfully surprised to learn that they have an extensive gluten-free menu. From pastas to salads and tacos to burgers, they have nearly anything and everything you could imagine! They even have a gluten-free cheesecake- Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, if memory serves me right. It is by far the biggest gluten-free menu I’ve laid eyes on. I suppose I have to account for the fact that their regular menu is nearly a short novel; however, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I was truly impressed. As for specifics, the next time I return, I will be sure to order their pasta- maybe the shrimp and fusilli or the pasta with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes? And we’ll see if it lives up to Maggiano’s wonderful GF pasta. On to the salads, I did in fact have the pleasure of trying the French Country Salad. If beets, candied pecans, asparagus, and fresh goat cheese is your thing, then this salad is you thing. I promise. Last but not least, burgers. Now, I personally don’t eat beef, so I was pleased to learn that they offered a turkey burger as well as a vegetarian burger option. And yes, when I say burger I don’t mean a pattie with condiments sitting on a white plate, I mean the whole package (gluten-free rolls included!). I can’t exactly vouch for them as I have not tried them, but if any of you do try it before I do, please let me know! There are many dishes that are yet to be eaten at this restaurant and fortunately…
They are ubiquitous. Whether you’re in Pennsylvania, Oregon, or Rhode Island, chances are, you’ll cross paths with The Cheesecake Factory. It’s one of the reasons that chain restaurants really make having a gluten-free lifestyle that much easier. You already know what options they offer and if the staff and kitchen have an awareness of cross contamination and what “gluten-free” means. All in all, it means that there is no need for experimenting. Yes, we all like variety, but it’s great to have a safe option in your back pocket.
And with the inevitable end of summer hurtling towards us, keep in mind, it’s always summer somewhere!