Restaurant lambasted for calorific dishes launches skinny menu

Just a few weeks after being slammed for offering calorific items like a red velvet cheesecake and a fat- and salt-soaked cheeseburger, restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory has announced the launch of a new low-calorie menu.

The chain's SkinnyLicious offerings include 50 menu items that clock in at 590 calories or less and include new dishes like a Mexican Tortilla Salad, a low-calorie hamburger and Tuscan Chicken. 

The new shift towards healthier options is a far cry from the chain's regular menu, which features a selection of 200 pastas, pizzas, steaks and burgers, some of which were singled out in a recent report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Xtreme Eating Awards - a dubious title bestowed on some of the most calorific meals in restaurants across the US.

Along with Denny's and Applebee's, The Cheesecake Factory was upbraided for items like the Farmhouse Cheeseburger, a 1,530-calorie sandwich topped with grilled smoked pork belly, cheddar cheese, mayo and a fried egg. Wash the burger down with the side of fries that come with it, and it equals eating four McDonald's Quarter Pounders with cheese. The sodium content is also more than double the recommended daily intake, which is about 1,500 mg a day, the report said.

The restaurant's red velvet cheesecake was also highlighted for packing in 1,540 calories and a whopping three days' worth of saturated fat - 59 g - between slices of red velvet cake and cheesecake, topped with cream cheese frosting, chocolate shavings and a "small silo" of whipped cream - all tantamount to inhaling a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza and two Quarter Pounders with cheese.

Meanwhile, the restaurant's new skinny menu - which also includes existing lower calorie options like beets with goat cheese and Asian Chicken Salad - will be offered alongside its regular menu.

The new menu rolls out at all 151 locations throughout the US beginning August 9 for five weeks.

The chain plans to develop 22 locations in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and is also eyeing North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey.

Denny's, which sells a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with deep-fried mozzarella sticks, also launched a lighter version of its offerings with a Fit Fare menu in June that includes scrambled eggs made with egg whites, a chicken avocado sandwich, and an apple chicken salad.