Over the weekend I went up to Northern Virginia for my stepdad Mike’s birthday. Before I arrived, he informed me that the plan for his celebration was dinner at The Melting Pot. I was already excited about the visit but learning this made me even happier to be heading north.
The Melting Pot, as I’m sure most of you know, is a chain fondue restaurant. It’s the kind of place that is made for special occasions; proms, birthdays, anniversaries. Somehow I have always missed out on going during such occasions, so I was super happy that I’d finally be able to try it out for myself.
Upon our arrival, I was so excited that I could barely control myself. I had a lot of questions about what was going on during the process. There were six of us in the group which put us at a large round booth with two burners and pots in the middle of the table. Each person got a set of colored skewers for dipping.
After some debate and discussion and a good Q and A with our waiter, we learned that we got to pick two cheese pots for the table. There were so many options and they all sounded delicious. I’m sure any of them would have done quite well but I do think we definitely made some good choices. The first pot we chose was part of their featured four course fondue special feast, “Big Night Out.” At the moment, their fondue special is based on France. The cheese we chose was ‘Fondue a la France.’ It consisted of four French cheeses, bacon, onions, chives, and white truffle cream. The next cheese we chose was mixed with spinach, artichokes, and garlic and ended up being my personal favorite. Our waiter mixed it all for us, throwing in spices and liquids that I could barely keep up with. As the cheese heated and melted he brought us our various dippers; soft breads, multicolored tortilla chips, crudités of carrot, broccoli, and cauliflower, and green apples.
We loved that cheese. We loved it a whole lot. I have to say that this was the highlight of my meal for sure. Hot. Melted. Cheese. I did manage to get cheese all over the front of my dress, but I don’t think anyone judged me for it, although they may have been upset that cheese was wasted.
Everyone got a salad choice and I chose a spinach, mushroom, bacon, and red onion salad with hot shallot vinaigrette. Quality salad, although if I had known the mushrooms were raw, I may have gone a different route. A bit of a bummer.
After quite a long time (the fondue is certainly a production), we were served our entrees. As part of the ‘Big Night Out’ deal we got plates filled with raw shellfish and meats. Lobster tails, garlic shrimp, filet mignon, pepper encrusted steak, chicken, and duck came all chopped into bite-sized pieces. There were also these weird yummy partially cooked raviolis.
Our waiter presented us with 6 or 7 different sauces for our meats; tarragon aioli, green goddess dressing with sour cream and chives, cocktail sauce, drawn butter, hot and sour sauces, blue cheese dressing, and yellow curried yogurt. An entire lemon per plate was given, ready to be freshly squeezed over seafood.
They got me with the sauces. So many options!
Cooking our proteins was where it got a little tricky. We got two hot pots that had boullion or flavored cooking liquid to cook the meats in. Each meat was to be placed on a skewer and put into the hot broth. Each meat had a different cooking time. There were six of us with two skewers each, and six different kinds of meat. With this many people and this many skewers I’m surprised no one got their eye poked out. We all had our cell phone timers out, trying to make sure that each meat was cooked long enough, each yelling out the time to one another. I definitely feel like I accidently ate a piece of undercooked duck. While the meats and broths were delicious and there were about 7 different kinds of sauces to dip the meat in, the process of cooking everything was a bit of a challenge. It was kind of harrowing, yet super fun and tasty. It was a whirlwind.
By the time we were getting seriously full, we realized that dessert was upon us like a desert wind. We’d been so engaged and focused on the cooking of the meats that we’d barely had time to consider our fourth course.
For the finale, we got to pick two chocolate pots. There was a set array of dippers that came automatically including bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, cheesecake, pound cake, brownies, and Rice Krispy treats. I love a smorgasbord.
After a hilariously heated debate over whether white chocolate is chocolate, we agreed on the ‘cookies and cream marshmallow dream’ pot and the ‘flaming turtle.’ I really wanted to try some white chocolate fondue and I also wanted to try their traditional pot of milk chocolate and crunchy peanut butter. I’ll have to get those next time. The ones we got were delicious, as, in truth, any of the pots would have been. They were both flambéed and the turtle one has caramel and chopped pecans swirled around inside.
For his final trick, our waiter mixed flaming marshmallow with dark chocolate and Oreo crumbles. This one was closest to me in proximity, thereby receiving most of my attention.
My experience at Melting Pot was just that; an experience, and I loved it. It was great to spend time with my family, and the interactive meal was fun/delicious to enjoy with them. I’d love to go back and just get the cheese plate and dessert or maybe even just go for one or the other. It was pretty expensive for all four courses, but the showmanship of it made it all worthwhile for any occasion.