January 11, 2011

The Food Idea: The Grand Lux Cafe

If you've ever been to the Cheesecake Factory, the Grand Lux Cafe shouldn't be too much of a surprise for your palate. Being a part of my family easily qualifies you as a seasoned veteran of all things Cheesecake Factory. It's not uncommon to see the Alexander clan, five deep, sitting nicely at a table within The Factory's hallowed walls. We put our aggressions aside and replace them with the worldly (but still Americanized) dishes of the Cheesecake Factory's menu.

Conceptually, the Grand Lux Cafe is nothing more than a Cheesecake Factory with a sprig of parsley perched atop its faux-Venetian exterior, but it's that extra sprig of parsley that makes the entire experience feel all the classier. While the Grand Lux's added class is nice, though (and I still enjoyed my time there), it doesn't completely annul the problems that the restaurant faces.

Upon entering the Grand Lux Cafe, you are enveloped by a whirlwind of orange, yellow, and dark red that gives a casual (yet still somewhat refined) sensibility to the entire restaurant. It's not entirely convincing, but hey- I'm willing to put aside my critiques if it means I can enjoy a good, solid meal. Clara and I were seated in a circular room overlooking Michigan Avenue, lined with artwork of a decidedly modest style. The view was nice, the ambiance was welcoming, and our waitress was eager to help.

As I'm familiar with both the Grand Lux and Cheesecake Factory menus, I decided to order one of my favorite standbys: chicken enchiladas (boring, I know, but hey- they're good). Clara, more adventurously, ordered the restaurant's DeLux Breakfast Sandwich, which promised all the protein-rich fixings of a home-style breakfast (and then some) sandwiched between two slices of brioche. Both dishes were, as expected, above average, and were perfect fuel for the day ahead.

Don't get me wrong, I love this restaurant, it does what is advertised. The Grand Lux Cafe is a consistently adequate, fairly classy restaurant. Like a workhorse in a tuxedo, it gets the job done while still maintaining a refined sensibility, accessible to even the most unexperienced of tenderfoots in the world of fine dining.

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