Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fondue-bie Doobie Do

On Thursday night Erich and I got to use one of the restaurant gift certificates given to us as a wedding present. The Melting Pot is a franchise dedicated solely to fondue. We had a lovely time and if you can afford it, I recommend trying it out. We were a bit surprised, however, at how the meals are structured. As in, how you are supposed to eat everything. We learned that you cook everything yourself at the table. And at no point do you get to dip meat into cheese. Their menu doesn't fully clarify what will happen at the table. So this post should serve as a "how-to fondue" for those interested in the Melting Pot.

1. Fondue for Two is the menu option most recommended for groups of two (big surprise). Under this option, you choose from one of 4 cheese courses (shared), one salad from among three options (each), and finally, an entree option (shared) from 3 choices.

2. The cheese courses are the Cheddar Cheese fondue (cheddar, emmentaler, beer, garlic), Wisconsin Trio Cheese (Fontina, butterkaese, bleu cheese, white wine, scallions, sherry), Tradiditional Swiss (Gruyere, swiss, white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon, kirschwasser), and Fiesta Cheese (cheddar, mexican herbs, spices, jalapeno, salsa). We chose the Cheddar Cheese fondue. The waiter then brought all the ingredients to the table: shredded cheese blend, fresh garlic, and some beer. He slowly added the ingredients to the pot that had been preheating on the table's built-in coil burner. He stirred it constantly so the cheese melted evenly and soon it was a piping hot cheesy dip. Yum. We were given an assortment of breads, apples, and raw veggies for dipping. It was hard not to overdo it on the first couse.

3. Salad course: We both chose the California salad. It was tasty, but has nothing to do with fondue so I'll leave it at that.

4. Entree: A little more complicated. Not only do you choose an entree, but you also have to choose a "Cooking Style Selection." This totally perplexed us. Basically, at its simplest form, the entree you choose can EITHER be cooked according to the traditional, european method with canola oil, or you can opt for a slightly healthier broth base. Those would be the "Fondue Bourguionne" and "Fondue Court Bouillon" respectively. The restaurant also offers 2 more jazzy cooking methods called Coq au Vin Fondue (herbs, mushrooms, spices, garlic, burgundy wine) and "Mojo Fondue" (a Caribbean bouillon with citrus and cilantro). We opted for this last option because it was based on the Bouillon base method, but with cool flavors.

5. Entree part II: The pot on the table now starts preheating with whatever cooking style selection you chose. The waiter brings out a platter of all the meat that comes with your entree plus veggies and potatoes (all raw). We also got at least 6 different dipping sauces! The favorites were curry sauce and a teriyaki-honey sauce. We chose the "Signature Selection" entree which includes tenderloin, shrimp, teriyaki marinated sirloin, chicken breast, and salmon. Then you begin the exciting and fast-paced process of sticking your piece of meat onto a skewer and resting it in the simmering pot. Within 2-3 minutes, you can remove it, dip it in a complimentary sauce and wolf it down. We each had 2 skewers and before long, we could barely keep up with the cooking time and sauce options. The vegetables could be thrown in at any point and would just float for a few minutes until cooked.

Everything was so good - we definitely didn't have room for dessert which disappointed our waitress cuz that's her favorite course. That just means we'll have to go back for an entire evening of just dessert fondue. Just a word of warning: the experience is deceivingly pricey. I wouldn't have expected such cheap ingredients to translate into an expensive evening. Thankfully we had both the gift certificate and had peeked at the menu online and knew what to expect. Drinks are especially expensive. This is really a shame because it seems like a great group activity but its cost is prohibitive. It almost makes the restaurant seem pretentious.

Thanks to Minerva and G-Love in Philly for hooking us up with the fondue-funds (which I almost just typed as 'fund-dues' but thought it looked weird. i love puns).


PassionKNITly said...

I've never had fondue....

but it sounded really good...
uhm, i totally have to call you and we need to talk tonight...I had the most amazing weekend. and we should catch up. :)

bugheart said...

i don't like that whole raw veggie and meat with broth thing... it's like you have to cook the food for them! but i am biased because it's a meat course.
i adore cheese fondue and am always impressed with how efficently they do it at the melting pot.
i have been trying to perfect it for years!