Once again, the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest have taken a look around that the menus of this nation’s restaurant chains to identify those items that seem so yummy on paper, so long as you’re not actually reading the nutrition info.
In its latest Nutrition Action Health Letter, the CSPI handed out Xtreme Eating awards to eight dishes that look to drown diners in a salty sea of calories and saturated fat.
As in previous years, the aptly named Cheesecake Factory manages to earn multiple Xtreme honors, and not just for dessert.
Here is the list, in no particular order:
IHOP: Monster Bacon ‘N Beef Cheeseburger
The International House of Pancakes tries its hand at an all-American burger, complete with bacon mixed right into the beef, which sounds delightful but will cost you 1,250 calories, 42g of saturated fat and a full day’s worth (1,590mg) of sodium. And that’s before you add in the sides, which range anywhere from 80 calories for fresh fruit to 300 calories for seasoned fries to 620 calories for onion rings.
The Great Steak: King Fries
The Great Steak is an Ohio-based cheesesteak chain that sells an abomination called the Great Steak Cheesesteak, complete with lettuce and mayo. But that’s not what made it onto the CSPI’s list. No, they focused on the chain’s King Fries, which come topped with bacon, sour cream and what the restaurant dubs “Philly Whiz.” An extra-large King Fries rolls in at 1,500 calories, 33g of saturated fat and 4,980mg of sodium. “It’s like eating three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese sprinkled with two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt,” writes CSPI.
Morton’s: Porterhouse Steak
The list goes uptown with the Porterhouse Steak at pricey beef hut Morton’s. The 24-oz (pre-weight) slab of delicious, yummy, mouth-watering meat comes out to around 1,390 calories, 36g of saturated fat and around 1,200mg of sodium, for just the steak alone. A side of mashed potatoes adds 850 calories. And one serirving of the creamed spinach side adds 330 calories.
Denny’s: Fried Cheese Melt
Though “four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread,” with fries and some marinara sauce for dipping, may tempt the curious diner, the meal will set you back 1,260 calories, 21g of saturated fat and 3,010mg of sodium.
The Cheesecake Factory: Farmhouse Cheeseburger
This burger comes with a slew of toppings: grilled smoked pork belly cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg. And it shows in the nutrition info: For just the burger, you’re talking 1,530 calories, 36g of saturated fat and 3,210mg of sodium. Throw in the fries and add 460 calories.
Cold Stone Creamery: PB&C Shake
Top off your visit to any of dining establishment with a visit to Cold Stone for a 24-oz. (“Gotta Have It”) shake of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, and milk with 2,010 calories and 68g of saturated fat. “One large Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake is like drinking two 16-oz. T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato,” says CSPI.
Applebee’s: Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine
Meatballs stuffed with cheese. Both a marinara and a Parmesan cream sauce. Chow down on this, along with the garlic bread and you’ll be stuffed with 1,520 calories, 43g of saturated fat and 3,700mg of sodium.
The Cheesecake Factory: Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake (pictured above)
Take a slice of red velvet cake, top it with a layer of cheesecake and then throw a second layer of red velvet cake on top of that. Oh, and add another layer of cheesecake. Not dead yet? Probably not, but you have consumer 1,540 calories and 59g of saturated fat. According to CSPI, that’s the equivalent of eating one Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza plus two Quarter Pounders with cheese… with an additional days’ worth of saturated fat.