Cheddar’s Casual Cafe
Cheddar’s Casual Cafe – Florence, Kentucky
I think I may have a new favorite restaurant. On our recent trip to Cincinnati we rediscovered Cheddar’s. I had first visited several years ago in Lexington, Ohio while in town for a for a CART race at the Mid-Ohio Race Track. The only thing I remembered from that trip was the Texas Cheese Fries and with special reason, they are loaded with bacon and melted cheddar cheese and you drown them in ranch dressing. Men’s Health magazine rated Outback’s version of cheese fries the worst food in America in 2008. Fortunately, we skipped the Texas Cheese Fries this time.
We were so impressed with Cheddar’s that before I started to write the review, I had to go check out Cheddar’s website and learn a little more about the chain.
They definitely pull off what they advertise and that is so rare these days. The food is definitely high quality and tastes homemade. It doesn’t seem like you’re eating at a chain restaurant.
We arrived for an early dinner last Saturday night and my wife and I were surprised to find that the parking lot was already full. There were several other restaurants around us, but Cheddar’s seemed to be the most popular, which was a very good sign. We were seated after a short wait and began to study the menu. I quickly noticed two things, the menu definitely has some southern roots and the prices were very reasonable. We were actually surprised when the food arrived because you definitely get a lot more than what you pay for compared to most other restaurants. My parents are from the south, so I definitely feel like I’m back home when there is some good southern food on the table.
Most of the time, I’ll order a diet coke to drink, but when I go to a new restaurant I will make it a point to watch the other tables to see what people are eating and drinking. A couple tables over, I noticed a strawberry lemonade and knew I had to order one when I saw “unlimited refills” on the menu. I was not disappointed.
Yes, those are real strawberries mixed in with some strawberry puree. And yes, it tasted as good as it looks.
It was hard to make a decision on the menu. But we finally placed our order.
Jennifer ordred the Dijon Chicken & Mushrooms – $9.49
Grilled chicken breasts basted with our honey Dijon sauce and covered with sautéed mushrooms. Served on a bed of seasoned rice with two sides. She chose carrots and southern style green beans.
The chicken had been marinated and had a really good flavor. The chicken is served on a bed of rice and covered in honey dijon mustard. The mushrooms are hiding behind the chicken. Overall, Jennifer thought it was awesome. Although she wasn’t a big fan of the southern style green beans.
I ordered the Baby Back Ribs & Chicken Tenders – $12.49
A half rack of baby back ribs and our famous chicken tenders, cole slaw, fries and honey mustard.
That is a ton of food for $12.49! The biggest surprise by far are the ribs. The ribs were the best that I have ever had at a chain restaurant. They were very tender to the point they fell off the bone. I felt like they could have slathered some more BBQ sauce on, but they were still really good. Next, were the chicken tenders. I was also pleasantly surprised at the quality. I view chicken tenders as a safe bet if you’re ever at a restaurant and nothing else looks good on the menu. It’s kind of hard to mess up Chicken Tenders. Cheddar’s takes a little more pride in their tenders, I have to admit they were far and away higher quality than all the other chains. The breading was crisp and flaky. They tasted like they were homemade from chicken breasts and the honey mustard had an excellent flavor. The coleslaw was above average and the fries were hot and crisp, but I just couldn’t eat the fries and I barely touched the coleslaw with the amount of food that was on the plate. I would have been more conservative and gotten a take home box, but we were on vacation, so I only had one shot. I had to make it count! haha.
Next time, I want to try the steak and ribs. Now, I feel like I shouldn’t have played it safe with the tenders.
Jennifer suggested that we order dessert and I had just a small amount of room left, so who was I to deny her?
We ordered up the Cheddar’s Legendary Monster Cookie – $4.49
A colossal homemade chocolate chip cookie baked in a skillet, topped with premium vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Baked fresh just for you, please allow a few minutes.
The Cookie Monster was good. It definitely looks good in the pictures, right? The best part, without question, was the chocolate chip cookie at the bottom of the pan. It was fresh from the oven and still hot and melty. The vanilla ice cream was just ok. I won’t say I was disappointed in the ice cream, but I didn’t feel like it held up to the same high quality of all the other food. Maybe, I was just too full from the ribs and chicken to fully appreciate the Legendary Cookie Monster.
I was pretty excited when I discovered on the website that there is a Cheddar’s location in Avon, Indiana.
9466 US Highway 36 (Rockville Rd)
Avon, IN 46123
Hours: MON 11a-11p | TUE 11a-11p | WED 11a-11p | THU 11a-11p | FRI 11a-12a | SAT 11a-12a | SUN 11a-11p
I highly, highly, highly recommend you make the trip and go check them out. I would rate our experience 4.5 blocks of cheddar cheese out of 5. If they would have had better ice cream I would have given them a 5 out of 5. Separately, I would drop the “Legendary” off the Cookie Monster and rate it at 3 chocolate chips out of 5. Whatever you do, make sure you get the strawberry lemonade. We will definitely go back when we’re in the area.
Stay Hungry My Friends!