Melting Pot

Written by on March 18, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Reston, Virginia

How I heard of this place: One of my friends first introduced me to the Melting Pot in Seattle, years ago, when we were going out for a birthday celebration. Since then, it has been one of those fun-evening-out locales; especially when others have not shared the fondue experience. I have since celebrated a birthday

Type of cuisine: A fondue extravaganza, from cheese fondues to oil- and broth-based fondues for cooking meats and vegetables, to the most celebrated: chocolate fondue selection. “At The Melting Pot, fondue truly becomes a memorable four-course dining experience where patrons can dip into something different – and discover all the ingredients for a unique dining experience including a relaxed atmosphere, private tables, attentive service, fine wines and signature fondue dinners.”

Ambiance: Dark interior welcomes you into this unassuming establishment in the back corner of an executive corporate park, surrounded by office buildings and a parking garage. The brown tones of the entry-way, the walls and corridors welcome patrons as they are escorted to their booth seating. Passing nooks and crannies with other diners in private parties, blocked off from each other by walls, giving the semblance of a cubicle or corporate office. We entered and were asked to take a seat on the pale yellow, microfibre, small, waiting area bench, as the host found our reservation and a waiter to seat us. Walking back towards our seats, we passed a handful of other parties, enjoying their fondues at booths within walls, only the area facing the corridor open to view. We were seated near the kitchen, where the clink and clang of dishes and fondue pots could be heard as wait-staff made their way in and out of the open entrance.

What I ordered: Chris and I wanted to show our gratitude for our friends Jack and Lenore, who have been generously hosting us for a week, since our arrival in Virginia. This seemed like a great spot to share an experience and laughter over enjoyable conversation; the three-hour dining experience new to everyone in the party. We ordered off of the special Big Night Out: France menu, wishing to sample many of the new, limited edition fondue options available. With only one burner at our table, it is a good thing the four of us had similar ideas for what sounded most appetizing. We began with the Fondue a la France: a rich, smooth combination of baby Brie, Fontina, Gruyere, and Raclette cheeses accented with Nueske’s bacon, onions, white-truffle cream, topped with fresh chives. For our salads, three of us ordered the Big Night Out special, Salad Nicoise, the Melting Pot version of a timeless classic, combining haricots verts (green beans), diced tomato, thinly sliced sections of a hard-boiled egg and and mini, black Nicoise olives, topped with a tangy Shallot Vinaigrette. The fourth in our party enjoyed my go-to California Salad: mixed baby salad greens, Roma tomatoes, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese, with Raspberry-Black Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing. For the main entree, we all agreed that we needed to try the Mojo cooking style: Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with a distinctive fresh garlic flavor and a citrus flair. Chris and I chose the Fondue Feast ($42 per person), which included Filet Mignon, Peppercorn-Crusted, NY Strip, Chicken Provençal, Roasted-Garlic Shrimp, Maple Leaf Farms Duck a l’Orange, Ratatouille & Goat Cheese Ravioli, and fresh vegetables. Our dining companions, seated across from us, chose the Lobster Indulgence ($48 per person), with Cold-Water Lobster Tail(s), Peppercorn-Crusted NY Strip, Chicken Provençal, Roasted-Garlic Shrimp, Maple Leaf Farms Duck a l’Orange, Ratatouille & Goat Cheese Ravioli and fresh vegetables. For dessert, the White Chocolate Creme Brulee stole the show, a fondue version of the classic French dessert including white chocolate and caramelized sugar, flambeed tableside, and served with fresh strawberries, bananas, cheesecake, Rice Krispies Treats®, graham cracker and chocolate cookie covered marshmallows, pound cake and brownies. To wash it all down, we had one cranberry juice at the table and one very sweet sangria ($9).

What I loved: The cheese course is always my favorite! I love the pungent cheeses, melted together and the pairing of fresh sliced bread and tart green apples doused with lemon juice. The raw broccoli, cauliflower and carrots also add great texture (crunchy) to the soft, gooey cheese. This particular cheese fondue was made most delicious by the bacon and white-truffle cream that went into it. Of the meats, three of us most enjoyed the peppercorn-crusted NY strip, and the fourth in our party most enjoyed the seasoned chicken. The shrimp was also tender and lightly flavored with herbs and garlic; dipped in butter, it was to die for. The duck was least impressive. The dessert surprised me, not being a true fan of white chocolate, but the burnt sugar crystals atop made it worth the sweetness. I most enjoyed the strawberries dipped in the white chocolate creme brulee. One of our dining companions was blown away by the brownies, another by the chocolate cookie crusted marshmallows and the fourth among us loved the Rice Krispies Treats®.

Why I loved it: The experience shared with friends is worth the cost. While I rarely partake of the full meal, usually sticking to just cheese and chocolate (and the occasional salad), it is an enjoyable and novel way to experience a meal, not just indulge in it.

Cost: High ($20-$48 per person, per dinner entree)

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