Opulent. Lavish. Extravagant. Choose your adjective to describe the decor of Grand Lux Café, the Cheesecake Factory’s upscale sibling that opened last month at Scottsdale Fashion Center.
Rich reds and golds are the primary colors in the palatial restaurant’s faux-Venetian motif, which features a 25-foot gilded ceiling, leather-and-velvet booths and polished marble floors with mosaic tile inlays.
Golden statues of human figures holding hand-blown glass lamps provide the lighting, and oversized tapestries hang above an open kitchen.
A feast for the eyes to be sure, and pointedly out of sync with a casually dressed crowd of holiday shoppers and business people dining there.
One look at the menu, however, helps to explain the clientele. More than 100 “global cuisine” dishes — ranging from Asian shaking beef to chicken pot pie to wiener schnitzel — offer something for almost everyone.
Starters include Asian nachos ($8.95), a heaping platter of crispy wontons covered with chicken in a sweet-hot peanut sauce, wasabi cream and melted cheese. They have a nice, warm spiciness .
Not as impressive are the mini Kobe hot dogs ($10.95), which actually is one large Kobe beef hot dog, topped with so-so chili and cheese and served on fresh-baked bread, cut into three pieces.
Entrees are huge, but what would you expect? Grand Lux is, after all, related to the Cheesecake Factory.
The Jamaican pork tenderloin ($17.95), a large hunk of delicious meat covered with onions and a sweet mango salsa, is filling enough. Just for good measure, though, it comes with mashed sweet potatoes. And black beans. And rice.
The braised Yankee pot roast ($17.95), with garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli, also has a pretty good flavor, although the meat, in my visit, arrives at room temperature.
The Grand Lux burger ($10.95) is topped with cheddar, grilled onions and Thousand Island dressing and served on Parmesan cheese bread. It’s OK, but certainly nothing to write home about.
The same can be said about the crispy sesame tofu ($12.95) with steamed vegetables in a Szechuan sauce.
Not surprisingly, Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes are on the dessert menu, but only six of the 30-plus varieties.
A dozen other desserts are created in Grand Lux’s in-house bakery. Some, such as a cone-shaped lemon meringue pie ($5.95) with a tart raspberry sauce, are readily available.
Others, such as roasted pineapple upside down cake ($7.50) with vanilla ice cream and macadamia nuts, are baked to order and require 30 minutes.
Although Grand Lux Café’s atmosphere is much tonier and the menu more international than the Cheesecake Factory’s, the quality of food is about the same.
So if you enjoy the original, you’ll probably like the spinoff.
If not … well, it’s worth a visit just to take in the sights.
DINING REVIEW | Grand Lux Café
Where: 7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale (northwest corner of Camelback and Scottsdale roads)
Open: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
Prices: Appetizers $7.95-$12.95, burgers/sandwiches $8.95-$14.95, entrees $9.95-$28.95, desserts $6.95-$7.95
Information: (480) 949-7800 or www.grandluxcafe.com