I have a huge love for food but cooking, not so much. I have to be in the mood to cook, and I have to have a plan in place. I wish I could be more of a spur of the moment chef, but I’m not. When I do, love is home-cooking. There’s just something about gathering around the table with your family & friends surrounded by food made with care, love, and intention. When I’m not in the mood to cook we flock to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen for their made-from-scratch meals and their over 20 entrees for under $10. Cheddar’s recently asked me to come in for a taste of their new summer menu, and I was there faster than ever, guys!
Disclosure: I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my mine unless noted otherwise.
Almost 40 years ago, when Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen was founded, Aubrey Good and Doug Rogers knew that a meal prepared and cooked fresh just for you not only tastes better, it makes you feel good. Since then, Cheddar’s has been built on three basic principles: simple, honest, and natural. And when you have devoted team members coming in at 5 am to start prepping the dishes, you know you have a good business model (and team members) up your sleeve.
To start our night off just right, Tarin, a bartender at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Kissimmee, FL, showed us how they make the refreshing cocktail – Watermelon Vodkarita! This dangerously delicious drink that just screams “summer BBQ” features Tito’s Handmade Vodka, sweet and sour, and watermelon puree, garnished with a lemon wedge and slice of watermelon.
After dreaming I was on a beach with my cocktail, it was time to dive into the “meat and potatoes” of what makes Cheddar’s a family favorite and how their new 2018 summer menu items fit the bill.
2018 Summer Menu
When you think summer, you think: fresh, light, fruity, and of course give me all the barbeque flavors into the long blissful nights. Cheddar’s brings all that and more to their new menu starting with the new Salmon and Strawberry Salad.
Fresh mixed field greens topped with hand-cut blackened salmon, Asiago cheese, fresh-cut strawberries, candied pecans and housemade raspberry vinaigrette. I was hesitant to try the salad with the salmon because I don’t usually care for fish but I opted for a little taste. I was truly blown away by the salmon. Not fishy tasting at all, flaky and grilled to perfection. I later learned that unlike other restaurants, Cheddar’s receives their fish fresh and uncut. Chefs cook the fish skin on then fillet it off before plating it up for you. This way you receive the freshest quality and juiciest fish possible.
Another salmon dish has come to the menu just in time for Summer at Cheddar’s. It’s the Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa. Again, the salmon is hand-cut in-house, then topped with grilled or hand-battered shrimp, finished with homemade mango salsa and served with two of Cheddar’s signature scratch-made sides. You just cannot beat the freshness. You’ll leave satisfied but not needing a nap. THAT is what I define as a good meal.
No stay at Cheddar’s is complete without their warm Honey Butter Croissants, and I’m not even lying when I say, I’ve eaten an entire order by myself. Four flaky croissants are baked to a golden brown and drizzled with house-whipped honey butter. I cannot make this stuff up – you NEED these croissants in your life. Currently drooling just thinking about them. Don’t mind me.
If you’ve ever been to a Cheddar’s you know you’ve seen a towering stack of onion rings and maybe though “eh onion rings are always the same”, but don’t get it twisted, you can’t get these onion rings anywhere else. And now that I’m a pro at stacking (see below) I’ll be your new server from here on out. haha.
Each order of Cheddar’s Homemade Onion Rings are double-breaded, ya’ll. That means they get a yummy bath in buttermilk, then seasoned flour, then again in buttermilk and seasoned flour once more. Your rings are prepared the moment you place your order, not before, because who wants soggy old onion rings? And believe me, this meticulously stacked 22-24 rings will not disappoint. Oh and neither will the size of them since they are all 3/4″ thick and large enough to fit around your water glass!
Whether it’s the feeling you get when you taste one of your favorite dishes or when you try a new and exciting flavor, food is at the heart of the matter when it comes to putting a smile on your face. At Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, that’s the why we make our food from scratch in our kitchen. From our fresh salsa, made in-house, to our finger-pinched Homemade Chicken Pot Pie crust, we start with whole ingredients and prep each item with care. It’s the way food is supposed to be prepared – the right way, not the easy way. Because when it’s made the right way, it just plain tastes better.
Whether you pop in to try the new summer menu items above or want your “usual”, it’s a win-win. So if you’re someone who eats some of the 34 million chicken tenders (annually) company-wide, or picturing yourself in Nola while eating the New Orleans Pasta with a side of Broccoli Cheese Casserole, you can’t go wrong.
And last but not least, we cannot forget dessert. No meal is complete without some sort of sweet treat (aka bribe/reward to make your kids eat real food… I’m above that people.) Made daily, every morning, the Hot Fudge Cake Sundae is a piece of triple-layer chocolate cake that’s accented with rich, creamy chocolate frosting slathered on top and between each layer of the cake. Hot fudge is then poured onto the cake, and topped with two large scoops of vanilla ice cream. It’s definitely large enough to share with 3-4 people but hey, do you.
For more information and to find one of the 159 closest restaurant locations to you, please visit Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.