Even the biggest Cheetos lovers probably never dared to dream this cheesy. Celebrity chef Anne Burrell and Chester Cheetah teamed up this week to unveil The Spotted Cheetah, a pop-up New York City restaurant with a classy touch that won’t leave orange dust all over your hands.
Don’t bother trying to get in: the restaurant is only open for three days (until Aug. 18) and was completely booked within six hours of offering reservations. And in true New York fashion, there’s a 1,000-person waitlist just in case anyone bows out at the last second.
SI Eats was lucky enough to be invited to try out the menu before the Cheetos fanatics descended upon the pop-up eatery. Here's a recap of our encounter with cheese heaven.
I’m not going to lie, Chester Cheetah has incredible taste. The Tribeca restaurant was dripping in orange, but it wasn’t tacky. The walls featured funny Cheetos art, including this incredible portrait that belongs in the Stoner Hall of Fame:
With no Cheetos bags in sight—the restaurant felt more like fine dining than a college dorm room. It also featured Cheetos-branded hand wipes and toilet paper. No Cheeto was left unturned. Grade: A+
They weren’t wrong when they described their starters as “dangerously cheesy.” The Cheetos Meatballs (beef, pork, veal and, of course, Cheetos) might have been the best meatball I’ve ever had, period. They had a perfect crust and might have been the highlight of the night. Shout out to the Purrfectly Fried Green Tomatoes and the Cheetos Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup, as well. The names might be gimmicky, but the food was authentic. If it’s possible to hide and accentuate an ingredient at the same time, Burrell and Chester pulled it off. Also, thank you for not putting Cheetos on a salad. Grade: A+
Maybe every Mac ‘n Cheese should feature Cheetos on top (and bacon, never leave out the bacon). Who doesn’t like a little crunch? I also tried the Flamin’ Hot Limon Chicken Tacos, which were solid, but not if you’re paying $22. Burrell said that when she was creating the menu she also considered a Cheetos pasta dish, but upon cooking she decided to scrap it. I was curious if anything had hit the cutting room floor considering how well all of the dishes we were presented turned out. The creativity was not lost on me. A five-star touch can turn even Cheetos into a delectable delight. Grade: A-
OK, now this portion I was skeptical about. How are you going to put Cheetos in cookies and crepes? And even more importantly, how am I going to eat them in a public setting without spitting them out?
Alas, no courage was needed. The cookies were warm and tasty and the Cheetos Sweetos Salted Caramel dip should be sold in stores across the country. I wasn’t as big of a fan as the Cheetos Sweetos Apple Crepes, but that didn’t stop me from dusting off my plate. Actions speak louder than words.
Whether you’re eating out of the bag at 2 a.m. or off a plate in a Tribeca, it turns out Cheetos and dessert go hand in hand. Grade: B+
As someone who watches more Food Network than ESPN these days (hey, it’s the NBA offseason), this experience did not disappoint. This will probably be the closest I ever come to being a Chopped judge, and I give Burrell all the credit in the world for highlighting a difficult basket ingredient and showing off its versatility. Grade: A+ (!)
My only regret? That you won’t be able to try it out and agree with me. But there's good news for adventurous Cheetos fanatics: The Spotted Cheetah Digital Cookbook.You’re welcome.