Everything about dining at Cheddar’s speaks to quality.
From the all-brick construction and pleasantly dim ambiance to the wooden tables (which are appropriately reminiscent of a cheese board), Cheddar’s makes you feel like you are in a place where the details matter.
And boy, does that become clear when you start to look at the food. On my first visit, I was told by our awesome waiter, Dan, about Cheddar’s commitment to making all their food from scratch—no hint of a frozen dinner or preservative here.
I decided to check out Cheddar’s in large part because of their boast about being a from-scratch kitchen. How much better is it, really, especially if they are currently in the price range of a TGI Fridays or an Applebees?
As it turns out, a lot better. A LOT. Even the next day for leftovers.
Let’s start with the drinks. For the nonalcoholic variety, Cheddar’s offers an array of fantastic fruit-infused teas and lemonades, which include free refills and are refreshingly sweet. However, their cocktails menu is also tempting, featuring wonderful drinks like this one, the Texas Sweet Tea—a delicious citrusy concoction that features enough alcohol in a large enough glass for the restaurant to restrict you to two.
Make sure you let the appetizers tempt you—and if you can’t decide, check out the Triple Treat Sampler platter. The chicken tenders were more than worthy of the name tender—the flaky pieces melted in my mouth. Both the Wisconsin cheese bites and the loaded baked potato skins were perfectly crisp and delicious.
The menu is extensive and focused on hearty classics—from classic sandwiches like the Monte Cristo and the Barbeque Burger, to house favorites like Chicken Fried Steak and Baked Spasagna (spaghetti lasagna, just like it sounds).
On our first visit, my friends and I enjoyed the top sirloin steak, the baby back ribs, and the beer-battered fried shrimp. The food didn’t take nearly as long to arrive as one might fear at a from-scratch restaurant (which was packed that night). In fact, we were just getting ready to sit back and digest our appetizers when our dinner plates arrived.
Sometimes when you order a steak done medium well at a restaurant, you come back with something dry and barely recognizable as meat. Not so at Cheddar’s. My steak was perfectly done, barely a hint of pink, and still as tender as can be.
My dinner companions equally enjoyed their meals. The ribs, like the steak, were incredibly tender. The sauce balanced the meat beautifully, highlighting rather than hiding its flavor. Cheddar’s also took the time to thoroughly clean their shrimp before battering, and the result was crispy and delicious.
All of the sides were likewise excellent. A generous portion of french fries, beans that tasted like they were cooked in bacon fat, rich creamy mac and cheese, smooth mashed potatoes, al dente broccoli…
With all the food, needless to say, we didn’t manage to make it all the way to dessert—that will have to wait for a future visit. I’ve been eyeing the chocolate croissant bread pudding, but as with everything on the Cheddar’s menu, it will be tough to choose between that and alternatives like the hot fudge cake sundae.
Long story short, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit to Cheddar’s Casual Cafe at their new Orlando location on S. Semoran Blvd, near the Orlando International Airport. Be sure to check out their menu online too!