My family and I found ourselves in one of the oversized, church-comfortable booths at the Cheesecake Factory in the Parks at Arlington shopping mall. It was a choice convenient for my son’s great-grandmother, who was due to be picked up by her son at the adjacent Barnes & Noble after lunch, and aren’t eateries like the Cheesecake Factory about convenience? They’re also about intimidation.
With a menu including more than 200 selections the size of an overgrown First Holy Communion Missal and specialties running the gamut of culinary traditions, I was a bit taken aback by my options. Most menus I order from list less than 20 items. Rarely to they exceed two pages. So, I honed in on something familiar: Tacos. I went with the fish.
And for $13.95, I was treated to four fried codfish tacos topped with tomato, onions and cilantro, a smear of chipotle cream salsa then slapped with a cold avocado wedge. Undercooked, over-salted black beans and yellow rice accompanied the quartet on a separate platter.
While the fish had the forward saltiness and hefty chew indicative of cod, the points where the cream sauce made contact with the fried fish were as springy and irritating as an oozy scab on child’s knee. The aftertaste was what threw me. A metallic circuit made its way around my mouth, much like the one that lingered after I stupidly stuck a fork’s tine into an outlet at the age of 7 years.
I left the restaurant filled with as much guilt. I should have ordered one of a burger but was overcome by the urge to sample new tacos, tacos that left me injured.
Thankfully, dinner that night was at the Arlington Tacos La Banqueta. Like all the La Banquetas I’ve visited so far, it’s home to exquisite tacos.The Cheesecake Factory 3811 S. Cooper St., Arlington 817-465-2211