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2014 Xtreme Eating Awards: Chain restaurants with the most gut-busting meals

07/30/2014 12:04 PM

07/31/2014 8:36 PM

The Cheesecake Factory has “won” three of the nine Xtreme Eating Awards for 2014.

But the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy organization, says the chain could have easily swept its entire list.

Diners chowing down on the Cheesecake Factory’s Brûléed French Toast (a plate of custard-soaked bread, topped with powered sugar and served with maple-butter syrup and bacon) would need to swim laps for seven hours to burn off the 2,780 calories in the dish, CSPI said.

The dish also has nearly five days worth of saturated fat, more than a day’s worth of sodium, and 24 teaspoons of mostly added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of nine teaspoons of added sugar for men and six for women.

CSPI said the Cheesecake Factory may have reformulated a few dishes in response to being named a “winner” of the Xtreme Eating Awards in past years. Still, it has a 2,800-calorie brunch item, a 2,400-calorie pasta, and a 1,500-calorie slice of cheesecake.

In a statement, CSPI dietitian Paige Einstein said the Cheesecake Factory is the “most calorically extreme chain we’ve seen.”

“When French toast is ‘Brûléed,’ fries are ‘bottomless,’ and steaks are now garnished with not just one, but two Italian sausages, it’s clear that caloric extremism still rules the roost at many of America’s chain restaurants,” Einstein said. “Two out of three American adults are overweight or obese and one in 10 adults has diabetes.”

In a statement, Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations for the Cheesecake Factory, said: “With more than 200 menu items, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices. Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories. Others want to share their dish – and we love it when guests share – that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day. For our calorie conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious Menu featuring more than 50 delicious choices under 590 calories – which is actually larger than many restaurants entire menus.”

CSPI also cited other chains:

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews for its “monster-sized” A.1. Peppercorn burger (hardwood smoked bacon, melted Pepper Jack, sauce, tomatoes and crispy onion straws on an onion bun), Bottomless Steak Fries, and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake.

Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que for “The Big Slab” of St. Louis-style spare ribs, sides and corn bread muffin.

Joe’s Crab Shack for The Big “Hook” Up platter (with seafood and crab balls stuffed with jalapenos and cream cheese and coated in Panko breadcrumbs, fish and chips, coconut shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp, hushpuppies and cole slaw) for a whopping 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 7,610 mg of sodium.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC

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