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Well, it is almost here--the grand opening of the much-anticipated new Mall at University Town Center, with all its dining options. While I will have to wait until I return from my European travels to see all of it, I did get a sneak preview of the Cheesecake Factory on Sunday. Yup, it is big--and boy, there is a lot of cheesecake.

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Since the menus were limited for practice nights, I enjoyed a fresh pineapple mojito and our guests were pleased with the burger--served rare, as requested. And I was pleased that my Luau salad came out with fresh hot grilled chicken, as I'd asked (instead of pre-cooked cold chicken, which I despise)--another plus. Give the servers a few weeks or so to learn the ropes. The Cheesecake Factory is a monster and so are its regular menus.

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I also took a sneak peak at Macy’s and loved having a full-service Starbucks on the bottom floor. Let’s face it, shoe shopping is exhausting, and a tall bold red-eye before hitting the Lancôme counter is a fashionista’s dream.

I'm not giving up a trip to Italy and Paris to taste my way through the mall's restaurants, but will update readers in about two more weeks when I try Capital Grill and Season’s 52. I do promise to keep those blogs coming about small, local restaurants, as well.

Now if we could just get that Jewish deli I am craving. then we really will have grown into quite a city!

Click here to see Chef Judi's "Hot Dish" in our October issue. >>