Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen will begin serving the good folks of West Kendall (16455 SW 88th Street) on Monday, February 1st at 11 AM. Cheddar’s regular hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11 AM to 10 PM and Friday & Saturday from 11 AM till 11 PM. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can discuss their food a little bit.
Just like everything else in our lives, the pandemic has delayed the opening of Cheddar’s, but it has not diminished my excitement. A couple of years ago, Marcela and I dropped in for some drinks and appetizers at one of their locations in Tampa. All I knew about them at the time was that they were a scratch kitchen.
What to get at Cheddar’s?
We ordered their chips with housemade nacho and an appetizer platter; everything was great. I chose a beer to enjoy while Marcela went the Painkiller cocktail route. Our waiter explained that there is a limit of 2 per person when it comes to the Painkiller. He then regaled us with stories of customers who had to be carried out when they couldn’t stand after downing two of those bad boys. Well, Marcela enjoyed both of hers, and she was fine, but I’m sure there are rookies out there who shouldn’t even drink one.
I wasn’t even going to look at the menu after ordering the apps, but there it was, a Monte Cristo. Much like Marcela, who felt the need to drink the two Painkillers, I had to order the Monte Cristo even though I wasn’t hungry. Since Bennigan’s disappeared across the comfort food landscape nationally (except for a few select spots), there has been a hole for deep-fried sandwiches that satiate those longing for salty and sweet. The only restaurant chain doing this same variation of the Monte Cristo is Metro Diner, and it’s not even available at every location.
What is a Monte Cristo Sandwich?
Many believe that the Monte Cristo originated in France as a simplified version of the Croque-Monsieur sandwich. The United States’ original version was a ham & cheese sandwich with French toast for buns and a jam for dipping. The version we all currently obsess over, the deep-fried version, was popularized in 1950s California.
Bennigan’s helped spread the good word about it in the 1980s and 1990s. The Bennigan’s version was a turkey, ham, American & Swiss cheese sandwich of wheat buns battered then deep-fried. In the 1980s, I can clearly remember it was served with a side of Knott’s Berry Farm raspberry jam.
How was the Monte Cristo?
One thing I forgot to mention, two months before my visit to Cheddar’s, I ate at the only Bennigan’s open in Florida. My friends and I left disappointed after sharing a Monte Cristo; how the mighty have fallen, we thought. Well, the good news is that Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen version is excellent. It’s a worthy successor and easily the best deep-fried sandwich in all of the ooey-gooey lands.