Review of the Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant
What Is Fondue?
When it comes to fun ways to enjoy food, having fondue is at the top of the list. Why? Because despite what your mother may have taught you, a fondue dinner allows you to eat while playing with your food. For those who don’t know what fondue is, or have never experienced a fondue event, let me explain.
Fondue, pronounced "fon doo" (accent on the second syllable), is a type of cooking in which individuals dip bite-sized pieces of food into a community pot filled with hot oil, cheese, or chocolate sauce. The food is speared with a long-handled fork and allowed to cook in the hot oil, if it is meat or seafood; or dipped into the cheese or chocolate sauce.
Fondue Bourguignonne refers to a reduction of red wine, onions, thyme, parsley and butter. In general, fondue Bourguignonne is the "meat" fondue . . . beef in particular, such as steak, but also poultry and seafood, that is cooked in the pot filled with oil, wine and butter, with seasonings.
History of Fondue
Although fondue is a French word meaning "to melt," it is the Swiss who are credited with creating the fondue cheese pot. However, there are some historians who feel it could have originated in any of the areas of Northern Italy, Southern France or Switzerland.
The earliest record of fondue was a wine and goat cheese pot mentioned in the book, The Iliad, which would make this form of cooking as old as the 8th century B.C. Resources state that the fondue was created to use cheese, which had hardened. By combining it with wine and heating it, bread could be dipped and eaten.
In the 1930s the Swiss Cheese Union delegated the fondue as a Swiss national dish. It became very popular in America in the 1960s. The little pots came in all sorts of colors with the tips of the forks a variety of colors to aid in identifying which fork belonged to whom when they were mixed in the pot. To keep the oil or sauce warm there was a votive candle, or in the case of the electric fondue pots, it was set on a burner.
In Chalet Suisse, a New York Restaurant popular in the 1950s and '60s, but no longer in existence now, Swiss chef Konrad Egli popularized the Bourguignonne Fondue when he brought the tabletop cooking pot into the public dining experience. Later, Egli introduced the chocolate fondue while promoting the use of Toblerone Chocolate from Zurich, Switzerland.
Although it is no longer as popular to have a fondue party as it was in the 1960s, kitchenware departments still sell fondue pots, or you can purchase one online. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's suggestions for preparing the pot and cleaning it afterwards. There are many easy to access recipes in both cookbooks or online.
The Melting Pot Experience
Have you had a Melting Pot experience?
Have you ever had a fondue experience?
The Melting Pot Restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina
The Melting Pot is a franchised restaurant where you can experience fondue for any occasion. They highlight romantic evenings such as Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, or anniversaries. They also have a large following for birthday celebrations. In addition to this, they have specific theme nights and Ladies Night Out. If there is a birthday the wait staff will bring a dessert with a candlelit for the honored guest.
Our group ate at the Melting Pot in Raleigh, NC. We had a party of five friends and family members, celebrating a birthday. Our waiter was knowledgeable, pleasant and skilled. He explained the menu to us and what to expect with the various courses we ordered.
The food was excellent and there was enough to go around where no one went hungry. I focused on the shrimp, while my brother, nephew, and friend ate mostly the steak and chicken. The cheese course had a delightful taste on a tangy side. The dessert course was the best: oozing melted chocolate. Four adults ordered cocktails, which were well made, and our waiter kept our water glasses filled. At the end, we were served coffee to compliment the chocolate dippers.
The menu consists of steak, chicken or seafood entrees, a choice of salad, a cheese fondue, and dessert fondue. There is also a choice of enjoying a four-course meal or ordering a la carte, although it is less expensive to order the four courses.
Depending on your order, prices range from $39 per person to over $50 per couple. This can be an expensive outing so if you are on a tight budget it is a place you will want to plan for so there are no surprises. Alcoholic beverages are available; however, they are not included in the base price for the meal. Factor in a tip and you can easily spend close to a hundred dollars for the evening.
At the Melting Pot, every guest is treated with top service, whether you and your group are celebrating a special occasion or not. The creators of the Melting Pot have a mission of happiness for their clients. Tables are set apart from each other for privacy and there is plenty of room to seat six people comfortably, along with a table filled with dips, food and place settings.
The Melting Pot has about 145 locations across the U.S. and franchises in 37 states. They also have a location in Canada and Mexico. The restaurant is open every day. If you have a Melting Pot in your area, I recommend you to take a group of friends for a night out.
How I Rate the Melting Pot
I give the Melting Pot 4 stars out of 5. In my opinion, the restaurant rates high on uniqueness and fun. They also rate high on quality of food and beverages. Why I did not rate them a 5 across the board is for two reasons: price and noise level. Although I would not expect them to lower their prices, it will deter many families on a tight budget.
As for noise level, I realize it is a fun place to dine and work, and certainly, with the number of celebrations going on it is difficult to keep the atmosphere toned down. In fact, it is a "party" atmosphere. So, if you are looking for soft, subtle elegance, don't stop here.
Melting Pot Locations Near Raleigh, NC
3100 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 919-878-0477
My Fondue Memories
One of my favorite memories was serving fondue at my wedding rehearsal dinner. Because it was my second marriage it was a small, intimate party with my young daughters and close friends. We set the grill up for the main entrée and when it came time for dessert the guests were enchanted with the chocolate fondue. I offered a variety of fruit, marshmallow and cakes that they could dip into the chocolate sauce. There was nothing but high praise for this fun evening.
My other favorite memory of my fondue experiences was when my oldest daughter, Cara, graduated from Michigan State University. I surprised her with a trip to Europe, as she was going into teaching and I felt she would benefit from this "first-hand" experience. As we moved from France into Italy, we stopped in Switzerland for a day and a half.
We had fun seeing the highlights of Geneva for the day, including touring the United Nations Building. Although we did not spend much time in Switzerland, and both of us have thoughts of returning someday for a longer visit, we enjoyed sitting down and having an "authentic" fondue. In actuality, it was not much different from the cheese fondue prepared at the Melting Pot.
Photos of Fondue FunClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Make Your Own Fondue at Home
Fondue is not difficult, but there are some preparations you will need.
- Gather the equipment: It's easiest to buy or borrow a fondue pot or two. If you have lots of folks, two pots are better than one. If you want to vary the menu without a lot of clean up, also use two pots. Otherwise, clean the pots between courses.
- Decide on the menu: Which entree will you serve: meat or fish? What about a salad? Will you have a cheese coarse? (Of course you will.) And, don't leave out the dessert—it's the most fun.
- Make a shopping list: Check out the menus in order to make a list of ingredients to shop for. There are some recipes on the Melting Pot website that are tasty.
- Go shopping: Time to buy all those yummy ingredients.
- Prepare: Get the house for the guests and do your food prep.
- Explain the rules: On the day of your party, explain the rules to the guests. Each person has one fork, no double dipping, remove the food from fork to plate—no nibbling off of the fork.
- Have fun!
Suggestions for Your Fondue Party
Cheese Course Dippers
Plain donut pieces
Angel Food Cake