“Life was just a tire swing. ‘Jambalaya’ was the only song I could sing. Blackberry pickin’, eatin’ fried chicken, And I never knew a thing about pain. “

Jimmy Buffet

I remember when The Cheesecake Factory first opened in Colonie Center and they were packed every single night, good luck getting a table. The constant mad rush may have died down, but the quality of food is still very good.

If you show up for dinner Monday-Friday from 4:00PM-6:00PM you find yourself in Happy Hour as my mother and I did. Boy, did we luck out. Not only do they give you the usual menu that’s about 12 pages, but you get a special menu for happy hour as well as an appetizer menu as well as the specials that the waitress tells you. It’s easy to get intimidated but if you go for the happy hour experience, you might as well focus on that menu and get great food for a great deal.

Along with the many Happy Hour food options, what’s happy hour without the drinks? The menu offers $5 specialty cocktails (Mojito, Long Island Iced Tea, Margarita, J.W.’s Pink Lemonade and Cosmopolitan); $5 select well drinks; $5 select wines by the glass. I ordered J.W.’s Pink Lemonade and my mom ordered the Margarita. I do have to note that ordering the Pink Lemonade is dangerous. If you’re heading out to Happy Hour with friends and you’re driving yourself home, make sure you keep count. This drink doesn’t taste like alcohol at all and for $5 I can see how easy it would be to order a large amount and then find yourself stranded.

For an appetizer, off of the Happy Hour menu my Mom and I ordered the fried calamari. This was definitely enough to share between two people. We both have had calamari at various restaurants around the world and there was no disappointment here. The problem with calamari is that it’s easy to get carried away and these we a bit greasy so if you’re trying to watch your figure, I wouldn’t recommend these. Maybe, unless you’re skipping dessert.

For dinner, I ordered the Cajun Jambalaya Pasta. On top of the bread we started our meal with, then the fried calamari that we continued and the fact that I was starving before we ate all this food, I didn’t eat much of the jambalaya in the restaurant but it wasn’t because of taste, just lack of hunger.

If spicy isn’t your thing, I don’t recommend this meal for you. It came with huge pieces of shrimp and the vegetables and protein was well balanced with the pasta. I don’t like when the plate is mostly starch and they skimp on everything else, I was satisfied with the proportions. The best part was that this was just as tasty, and spicy, when I ate it the next day.

I didn’t have room for dessert after all that but I know their cheesecake is fantastic from previous experience so I’m sorry I can’t give an idea of what’s good to order but you can’t go wrong with cheesecake at the CHEESECAKE Factory, right?