Cheddar’s is a franchise restaurant chain based in Texas. The Virginia Peninsula restaurant has been here for close to 20 years. It has, at times, been outstanding. At other times, it was sorely lacking in anything redeemable. (Note: I’ll share that story later.) It IS currently quite good and one of my favorite restaurants.
With a pleasant atmosphere, a reasonably priced menu, a full service bar, and dining available both inside and out, Cheddar’s has a great deal to offer. It is equally popular among young professionals and families. I don’t recommend trying to get into the restaurant immediately following church on Sunday unless you have a lot of time to spare. It is always packed to the rafters with at least a 30 to 45 minute waiting time. You might also want to avoid it between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during the week and after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday unless you are willing to wait. These are busy times for this ever-popular restaurant.
The strength of Cheddar’s is two-fold. It offers an excellent menu at even better prices. The service is usually pretty good as well, although as can be true with every restaurant, it does have a few waiters and waitresses that could stand to be replaced. In many ways, their wait staff resembles the little girl who lives down the lane – – “when they are good, they are very, very good but when they are bad, they are horrid!”
Cheddar’s offers a wide variety of delicious foods. Here are some examples:
Appetizers – – ranging in price from $2.99 to $7.29:
- Grilled Chicken Quesadilla with seasoned chicken, mixed cheeses, and black bean salsa, wrapped in a hand-stretched and butter grilled tomato tortilla;
- Santa Fe Spinach Dip with chopped spinach simmered with sour cream, spices, and seasonings blended with four creamy cheeses and served with fresh salsa and tortilla chips;
- Cajun Tenders of hand-breaded chicken tenders lightly fried and coated with spicy Cajun sauce and served with French fries and ranch dressing;
- Stuffed Portobello Caps stuffed with jalapeno cream cheese, breaded and lightly fried and served with tangy dipping sauce;
- Homemade Onion Rings thin-cut, hand battered and lightly fried and served with ranch dressing and Cajun dipping sauces.
Lighter Fare – – ranging in price from $2.19 to $7.89:
- Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with charbroiled seasoned chicken sliced and served on a bed of fresh salad greens with bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds;
- Oriental Chicken Salad on fresh salad greens, crunchy cabbage, mandarin oranges, cucumbers and crispy noodles tossed in a sesame ginger dressing;
- Deep-Dish Quiche Combo with a large and deep wedge of fresh baked quiche of the day, a slice of fresh melon, a honey-buttered croissant, and a choice of soup or salad;
- Vegetable Plate with house salad or bowl of soup and a choice of four vegetables, served with a honey butter croissant;
- Ultimate Lunch Combo with a house salad, Caesar salad, bowl of soup, half of a hot club, half of a turkey croissant, a baked potato, or adouble-baked smashed potato;
- Cheddar Cheese Soup loaded with seasoned bacon bits; and
- Cream of Broccoli Soup with chunks of broccoli florets;
Sandwich Board – – averaging $6
- Cheddar’s Chicken, a boneless skinless breast charbroiled with or without cheese and served with lettuce, tomato, and a choice of honey mustard or hickory sauce;
- Philly Cheesesteak with shaved sirloin steak covered with sautéed onions, peppers, and melted cheese served on a hot toasted hoagie roll;
- Chicken Tender Wrapper with crispy fried or grilled chicken tenders with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and cheese wrapped in a jumbo flour tortilla with a choice of honey mustard or BBQ sauce;
- Hot Club with a generous helping of turkey, ham, bacon, and jack cheese, served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a toasted Vienna bread;
- Portobello Wrap with jumbo caps, chargrilled and sliced with grilled zucchini, red pepper, grilled Bermuda onion, and cheese, wrapped in a jumbo flour tortilla with creamy ranch dressing; and
- Turkey Croissant with oven-roasted turkey breast sliced thin and piled high on a flaky croissant with bacon, lettuce, and tomato and mayo.
Gourmet Burgers – – averaging $6:
- Original Burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion;
- World Class Bacon Cheeseburger with four slices of bacon, two slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion; and
- Border Burger with south-of-the-border taste complete with jalapeno cream cheese, jack cheese, lettuce, and spicy tomato relish.
Great Plates – – ranging in price from $7.99 to $9.99:
- Yankee Pot Roast with brisket of beef slow-roasted in its own juices until falling-apart tender, served with carrots and covered with brown gravy and served with two sides;
- Smokehouse Chicken, BBQ chicken breast topped with shaved ham, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and diced tomatoes and served on a bed of rice with two sides;
- Chicken Fried Steak with choice steak, hand-breaded and fried, covered with country gravy and served with two sides;
- Fajita Wrapper with marinated sirloin steak or fajita chicken, grilled, sliced, and wrapped in a flour tortilla with sautéed peppers and onions and mixed cheese and served with black beans and rice and shredded lettuce, topped with pico de gallo;
- Beer-Battered Fried Shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce served with a choice of two sides;
- Freshwater Catfish charbroiled with a choice of Cajun or lemon pepper seasoning and served on a bed of seasoned rice with two sides;
- Grilled Salmon seasoned with lemon pepper, Cajun, or bourbon-glaze served on a bed of seasoned rice with two sides.
The Classics – – ranging in price from $5.99 to $9.99:
- Barbecued Baby Back Ribs with a choice of honey-BBQ or hickory-smoked, slow cooked until fork tender, then grilled to perfection and served with two sides;
- Spasgna with tender spaghetti baked in creamy Alfredo sauce and four cheeses, topped with a choice of rich meat sauce, creamy Alfredo, or tangy marinara;
- Oven-Baked Chicken Pot Pie, homemade and filled with chicken breast and vegetables in a light and flaky crust; served with a choice of soup or salaried;
- Grilled Chicken Alfredo with imported pasta tossed with grilled chicken breast, fresh broccoli, and Alfredo sauce and served with garlic bread;
Steaks and Combos – – ranging in price from $7.99 up:
- Center Cut Top Sirloin, 11ozs of tender cut top sirloin grilled to order and served with two sides;
- Grilled Pork Chops (2) marinated bone-in 6oz chops chargrilled and basted with bourbon glaze or barbecue and served with two sides;
- Ribs and Shrimp, with a half-rack of baby back ribs and a choice of plump fried or spicy blackened shrimp with two sides;
- Marbled Ribeye Steak, 12ozs of choice steak chargrilled to order with special seasonings and served with two sides;
- Mixed Seafood Grill with five blackened shrimp and a tender salmon filet chargrilled with your choice of lemon pepper, Cajun, or bourbon-glaze and served with creamy cole slaw and fries;
- Steak and Ribs with a center cut top sirloin and a half rack of baby back ribs served with two sides.
Cheddar’s offers kids meals as well for children under 12. These average around $3.50 and include grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers, soup and sandwich combo, chicken tenders, and penne pasta with meat sauce.
The restaurant is also well know for its delicious New York-style Cheesecake, which is done in a fresh graham cracker crust and topped with a choice of raspberry or strawberry sauces, or hots fudge. Other desserts include:
- Chocolate Thunder, a rich homemade fudge brownie and two scoops of chocolate ice cream, covered with hot fudge and whipped cream and served in a cocoa covered cinnamon-sugar torilla shell;
- Cookie Monster, a fresh baked warm chocolate chip cookie cooked in a skillet, topped with French vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry; and
- Hot Apple Pie AlaMode with a large helping of Grandma’s own, brimming with apples and encased in a flaky crust sprinkled with brown sugar and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. Baked fresh daily.
The food at Cheddar’s, at least at this time, is absolutely scrumptious. My husband and I have tried several menu items but my favorite is the huge, delicately breaded and lightly fried Chicken Fried Steak. It just can’t be beat! My husband loves the Chicken PotPie and I have to admit that the crust is to die for. We also always get the onion rings every time we go. They simply are the best we’ve ever had. And we are equally guilty of getting dessert regularly here – – because they are just too good to refuse. We’ve tried them all. I love the Chocolate Thunder and Cookie Monster the most. However, be aware that most people can’t eat one of these desserts all alone. They are huge and yummy!
In an effort to be absolutely fair in disclosing all that I know about Cheddar’s however, I will also share my horror story from 1991. It is the reason that I didn’t frequent the restaurant for some 13 years. As I already mentioned, my current favorite Cheddar’s dish is the Chicken Fried Steak. It was also my favorite back in my Yuppie years. However, on one visit to Cheddar’s in 1991, I was served the steak with gravy that was obviously curdled. It looked curdled. It smelled curdled. I returned the item to my waiter indicating I needed another steak. He returned about five minutes later with what was obviously the same steak. However, the gravy had been scraped off and the curdles had been smashed into smaller bits and then put back on the steak. It still smelled sour. It still tasted sour. I sent the steak back again and refused a replacement. And as I noted, I stayed clear of the restaurant for 13 years.
Now, I’m not one to hold grudges. I realize that sometimes bad employees do really stupid things that make businesses look bad. Now that I have returned to the Cheddar’s fold, I am perfectly happy with its current cooking staff. Therefore, the moral is this. It is possible to have one or two bad experiences with any restaurant. Don’t let that cloud your judgement forever. Good management will eventually make repairs, as did Cheddar’s.
Ii highly recommend giving this restaurant a try. To find out if there is a Cheddar’s in your area, Google it on the Internet.