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Omnivore - No way

The Cheesecake Factory tops list of beloved restaurant chains

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Sweet Jesus, this cannot be. The most popular chain restaurant in America is the Cheesecake Factory, according to Nation's Restaurant News, as reported by the Huffington Post.

The Cheesecake Factory topped 14 other restaurants whose names are like a mantra of dubious taste and poor health.

As it happens, two food critics, Kelly Alexander and Michael Ruhlman, recently got in a friendly debate about the quality of the Cheesecake Factory's food. Alexander wrote that she likes it. Ruhlman responded by making fun of her. She challenged him to try the restaurant, which he did. Their dispute is summarized on the Huffington Post website and by Ruhlman on his own site.

I haven't been to a Cheesecake Factory in many years. I do, however, recall the opening of the one in Buckhead. I wrote probably the harshest review I've ever written after visiting it. It wasn't just that the food was not very good. The experience of dining there was like taking up residence in a cartoon. Nothing felt very real about it.

Actually, Ruhlman ends up tempering his own opinions after visiting one of the restaurants. If he's right, it sounds like the food has improved. But he seems to have had the same experience I did of finding the place unreal.