welcome to part 2 of the Grubby Tomato Miami Food Diaries.
In today’s post we’re going to be covering…. AMERICAN CHAIN RESTAURANTS.
I’m passionate about many things, one of those things being American food chains*. I like reading about their menus online, I like reading stories about them on Reddit and not being able to relate and I like relentlessly talking about all of them every time I visit America until someone caves and says ok fine, lets go.
When I booked tickets to go to Miami the very first thing I did was google to see if there was a The Cheesecake Factory in the vicinity.
AND THERE WAS.
I took an Uber allll the way to somewhere called Dolphin Mall, which in hindsight is kind of ridiculous.
Until you remember that I got to go to The Cheesecake Factory, and then it all makes perfect sense.
Dolphin Mall was essentially a huge mall filled with various outlet stores for various brands. The Cheesecake Factory aside, I don’t recommend going. Although there was a Calvin Klein outlet where I bought loads of cheap underwear, the exact same underwear that they sell in Urban Outfitters for x2 the price.
*I have been to The Cheesecake factory only twice before. Two years prior to this trip, once in L.A (in Glendale) and once in San Francisco. One time was purely for cheesecake, the second time was for lunch. I can’t remember what I ate that day but it must have been good for me to keep talking about it years later.*
I arrived at The Cheesecake Factory very excited, and was seated in a booth across from a group of people that appeared to be having some kind of office party. I wish I could have an office party at The Cheesecake Factory.
Here is a very excited picture of me taken from my Snapchat:
After getting over my initial shock and excitement, I cut the shit and ordered.
This is what I had:
What you see here is a crab and artichoke dip with some crusty bread slices on the side.
It was everything I wanted it to be and more – really creamy and a decent amount of crab (which is a rarity, sadly.) and I could have eaten it with a spoon. In fact, I might have done that.
In the background you can see some breaded shrimp and some kind of spicy mayo. This was for my mum (shall I say mom? This is a post about Miami I guess). She ordered them thinking that it might be similar to P.F Chang’s dynamite shrimp (more on that later.) It wasn’t similar, but it was pretty damn good.
On to the mains:
This is what I ordered. Fish Tacos.
I have never tried fish tacos but I’ve always wanted to. I’ve heard good things and I just thought you know what? We’re in Cheesecake Factory, there’s such a huge menu that I don’t know what to choose so I may as well try these tacos I’ve always wanted to try.
Do I regret that?.. Sorry but, yeah. Kinda.
It’s not that the tacos were bad. They were ok. They just weren’t.. that.. great. They just didn’t have a whole lot of flavour, there was a lot of breaded shit around the fish which I wasn’t expecting (NO DISRESPECT TO CHEESECAKE FACTORY I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEIR FISH TACOS WERE LIKE).
Look how determined I am to not bad-mouth Cheesecake Factory. Don’t I deserve some kind of voucher for that??
But.. yeah. They were ok. The beans on the side were pretty good, but still. I wouldn’t order them again.
Next up we have:
My mom and I ordered this side of jalapeno and bacon creamed corn. I LOVE creamed corn and when I saw they did jalapenos I was thrilled. The creamed corn was where my average fish tacos were sort of atoned for except for the fact they were served in this little skillet and were super hot. I burnt my tongue and I’d probably do it again.
All in all, good, creamy, couldn’t taste the bacon but that didn’t bother me much. Would order again.
So this is what my mom ordered. It is Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp and it was the best dish of the evening after the crab and artichoke dip. I can’t report fully because I tried a literal forkfull but I do remember it being really, really good and I was sad and jealous and had to restrain myself from reaching across the table and knocking the plate on to the floor out of spite.
Just joking, what kind of a monster would waste food like that?
This is the sad part of the post where I have to tell you that we didn’t eat any cheesecake. We were just too full and couldn’t manage it – a decision I regretted the entire 30 min uber ride home.
So where did we go next?
I have visited P.F Chang’s a few times before, once in LA but mostly in Dubai, which is a place I have been to a fair few times because I have family that live there.
My mom loves P.F Chang’s the way I love Cheesecake Factory – a whole lot.
And so, we got another uber to another obscure part of town that we would probably not visit if we weren’t just going there to at eat specific chain restaurants.
I really couldn’t tell you where this P.F Chang’s was located, but then does it matter? It’s a chain, you can find one in a multitude of places.
Thats right, the fabled dynamite shrimp.
I’m gonna be real with you – I got too excited about eating the shrimp and I ate a few pieces before I remembered to take a picture. But there they are! You can still see them in iPhone HD. Stop complaining.
The dynamite shrimp were really awesome. I probably held up a better image of them in my mind because thats what you do when you like something but don’t have it for a long time so I can blame anyone for that but myself.
They were covered in a sticky, spicy mayo-esque type sauce. The batter still remained a nice amount of crispy. If you ever go there: order these.
The lettuce wraps. My favourite P.F Chang’s dish. Once again, they slayed me.
I mean I know its only some chicken and onion and maybe some pork?? mixed with various seasonings and then wrapped in a leaf of lettuce but still, they really are amazing.
They give you so much filling that you end up running out of the lettuce and just eating it with a fork. Which is absolutely fine with me. I just love these. I love those weird white crispy things they put on the plate too. They taste like nothing but then they soak up all the lettuce wrap filling goodness. Loves it.
Lastly, I had these street tacos, as they were called on the menu. I chose these because the filling was lobster and shrimp and I will never, ever resist something that involves lobster.
And they were pretty good! I’m not a huge fan of summer rolls, which is sort of what these reminded me of. But they tasted good, the sauce they used was tangy and sweet and delicious and all round, they get my approval.
And so marks the end of our American chain restaurant food stops. Before I go I would like to mention these Lays crisps that I ate while in Miami:
I ate these whilst standing outside a CVS waiting for the rain to stop. As I think I’ve already mention on this blog, I fucking love pickles. I really do. I also love crisps. I once spent an entire evening on the crisps (chips) subreddit and from there researched all the different crisp flavours in all the different countries.
I found out they had PICKLE FLAVOURED CRISPS and I was overjoyed. At least for two minutes, and then I found out that you could order them on Amazon for something insane like £15. For one bag.
So imagine how happy I was when I saw these crips sitting there waiting for me in the snacks isle in an American food store that I don’t remember the name of. I was thrilled. And they tasted JUST LIKE DILL PICKLE. Very much recommend them. You’re welcome.
See you in part 3.
*Special mention to all the chain restaurants I haven’t visited yet – Olive Garden, Popeyes, Arby’s, Chick-fil-A. I’ll see you one day.