With a name like The Cheesecake Factory, this chain known for copiousness doesn’t exactly attract a crowd expecting dietetic fare.  But on my last foray to this Rancho Mirage eatery at The River, I got quite a surprise.  I’ve been a hearty eater all my life, so big portions are always welcome.  Sure, I’ve been known to take home a doggy bag on occasion so as to have a quick and easy lunch of leftovers the next day.  But it’s not uncommon for me to clean my plate, even if I’m not all that hungry.

Thankfully, The Cheesecake Factory has recognized that, in this era of health consciousness, it was time to offer some alternatives to the huge portions and sometimes not-so-slimming calorie counts that their fabulous food had become known for.  My friends and I were pleasantly surprised to see a whole new section of the menu devoted to “SkinnyLicious.”  Yup!  Lower-cal, smaller portions, and delicious new recipes.  We started with a few apps to test the waters.  The Crispy Crab Bites were the perfect solution to our innate desire for a little fried food!  They totally satisfied.  Mushroom Lettuce Wraps?  We weren’t expecting the full-flavored Shitakes with soy to offer such a mucho macho munch, but they did.  The list of entrees went on and on, with filling and tasty choices like Petite Grilled Tenderloin, Tuscan Chicken, and Herb-Crusted Salmon.  They even have skinny cocktails!  My pal Marcos couldn’t resist the regular menu’s Famous Factory Meatloaf—and we all felt obliged to help him with those delectable mashed potatoes!

Of course no meal at the Factory is complete without its namesake dessert.  Our table shared the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake and the Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake.  Neither disappointed.  Skinny-what?!