Insider’s Table — We give it a second try

We decided to give the Insider’s Table a second try — at the Chestnut Hill Cheesecake Factory (again) on Saturday for lunch. For the month of February, the Insider’s Table membership provided me with a coupon for a free order of their Avocado Eggrolls, so we decided to head over before the month came to a close.

If you remember, our first experience (in Chestnut Hill) with the I.T. was nothing special. So I was curious to see if it was a one-off with the manager we had that day, or if Chestnut Hill just doesn’t have their crap together with this program.

We arrived around 1pm and surprisingly, there was no wait at all. I handed my Insider’s Card to the host and she knew immediately what it was. We were seated a few minutes later and within 2 or 3 minutes of being seated, the Manager came by to retrun my card. I wish I could remember his name because this manager was much better. He greeted us, asked us how we were liking the program so far, talked a little bit about how it has been working for the Chestnut Hill location AND (most importantly) gave us a bit of good news.

It appears that the Chestnut Hill store alone, is now offering preferred seating for card holders who call in ahead of time! This is HUGE… it’s been a topic of discussion for a long time on the I.T. message boards. You do not get preferred seating if you just show up; however, if you call ahead, they will write your name down and try to seat you as quickly as possible after you arrive on site.

Those of us who live near the C.H. Cheesecake Factory realize what a gift this is… as this location is almost always JAMMED. I can’t wait to give that perk a try on some busy weekend for brunch!

Anyway, our bread arrived immediately after and the server who delivered it also gave my son a plate with sliced banana and a few pieces of bread. We have had this given to him before, but it’s inconsistent… not every time. In fact, we’ve been there many times and I think he’s only gotten it once before.

Our server came over next to take our drink order. I gave her the Avocado Eggroll coupon at the same time and ordered my son’s buttered noodles; both dishes arrived not too long after. Even though the Avocado Eggrolls are one of the most popular items on the CF menu (according to the manager), I had never had them before. Described on the website as: Chunks of Fresh Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro Deep Fried in a Crisp Chinese Wrapper. Served with a Tamarind-Cashew Dipping Sauce (normally $9.95), these were truly delicious. I am still struggling a bit with chewing ‘tougher’ items (such as the eggroll wrapper), but I found a way to get these down because they were so damn good! The dipping sauce in particular is quite tasty.

About 2/3 of the way through the eggrolls, the manager stopped by again to see how things were going. Once again, he was very friendly, very informative and stayed to chat for a few minutes. I told him that this was our second visit using the card and that we were having a much better experience this second time around. He apologized about the first time and indicated he was happy to hear he was doing a better job.

For lunches, we kept it simple since we had already filled up on the eggrolls. I ordered the Crabcake Sandwich ($12.95) sans bread, which is served with french fries and a mustard aoili sauce. The CF Crabcakes happen to be one of my favorite items on the menu. They are consistently good, chock-full-of lost of real crab meat and the sauce is great. The only issue I have every run across with these is that sometimes they are not available; either because the sold out or because the crab was out of season. You can also order the Crabcake Appetizer ($9.95), but that does not come with french fries.

Dan was trying to find a veggie burger on the menu, but without success. So he asked me to order him the Grilled Portabella Sandwich (he left to use the rest room). I messed up and said he wanted the “Portabella Burger” (damn nomenclature). We’re not sure which burger he got, but it was definitely beef. Looking at the menu, my guess is the Kobe Burger ($12.95), described as: American Kobe Beef with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions on a Toasted Brioche Bun. Served with Fries. I’m not quite sure how this could be mistaken… as it doesn’t even list portabella mushrooms. None of the burgers do.

Dan thought it was okay, just not what he ordered or felt like. Also, the server didn’t ask me how he wanted it cooked… and it looked pretty well done. Not that I’m any type of beef expert — seeing how I don’t eat it!

The rest of our experience went off without a hitch… unless you count the fact that our son saw the Director of his school sitting a few tables away from us and tried non-stop to escape from the booth and get over to her. Crying and whining all the while!

All-in-all, a much better experience. Granted Dan’s lunch was messed up, but we could have returned it and didn’t and it was partially my fault as well. Is the Insider’s Table membership worth it? Well, since it’s FREE, why the hell not?! At least we have gotten two free menu items and have a coupon for a third in March (Belgium Waffles I think). Plus, now that I know I can call ahead for preferred seating in the Chestnut Hill location, that in itself is benefit enough!

Cheesecake Factory in Newton

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