Thursday, June 17, 2010
I think I have mentioned before that Brooke and I are in a dinner club. Last month, we hit up the Melting Pot fondue restaurant. I have to say that our little group of four had a fantastic time enjoying this very unique dining experience. A few notes to start, I would definitely recommend going as a group of four - a lot of the meals are priced per couple, and a group of four allows you to try two different cook styles, and I would also make sure you have some time to spend out - our dinner took close to three hours, and we felt like we were moving at a pretty good clip.
Seeing as our dinner club is more about experience than budget consciousness, we decided to go with the Big Night Out feature menu. It is a four course meal starting with a cheese fondue, followed by a salad course, then an entree, and finally a dessert. Although each meal is set out in the menu, you are able to change out items from the a la carte menu, and we did so that we got to try more options.
For the first course, we stuck with one of the suggested cheese dips: the Feng Shui, and substituted in one Fiesta. The reviews were mixed from the group. I really liked the Feng Shui, it was very much what one would expect from a traditional cheese fondue. Made with gruyere cheese, white wine, mirin and sake, it was subtle and delicious. I wasn't as taken with the Fiesta. It was cheddar with jalapenos and salsa, and reminded me a bit too much of "nacho" cheese. Our cheese dips were served nice and warm with sides of raw veggies, breads, tortilla chips and granny smith apples. I thought the best pairing was the apple with the Feng Shui. The tartness of the apple paired perfectly with the boozy cheese.
The second course of salad wraps was mostly filler for us. Honestly, with picking all the other dishes, we paid very little attention to the salad course. Really though, how can salad compare with melty cheese or melty chocolate? We were careful not to fill up on the salad, which was not difficult as the salad wraps had some mint in them, and that didn't appeal to any of us.
For our main, we went with the bourguignonne (oil), and the coq au vin (burgundy wine, broth, herbs, mushrooms, garlic). The bourguignonne also cam with a tempura and sesame batters. We had entree plates that were packed with selection. There was ahi tuna, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, lobster, veggie dumplings, mushrooms, potatoes, and broccoli. As if the food and cook styles didn't offer enough variety, there were sauces as well! The sauces are a bit of challenge to remember, so I may not have each of them 100%. There was a flavoured butter, two different cheesy sauces (one that made for great stuffed mushrooms), a plum sauce, a curry sauce, a teryaki sauce, and one other that I can't recall. Darn it! I knew my memory would fail me.
The bourguignonne was generally the favourite, but it got very hot and therefore it was a bit difficult to cook the chicken and pork through without overdoing the exterior. The coq au vin was also very nice, but without the batters, it didn't rate quite as highly with our group.
Eating this way was tons of fun. We all shared tips on what were the best combos, and the cooking gave us lots of time for visiting in between. The time just flew by.
They saved the best for last. I would definitely go back again just for dessert, and without being as full when it arrived I would be tempted to eat any left overs like soup (I'm classy like that). We totally abandoned the Big Night Out for these choices, and had a very difficult time choosing. In the end we went with one Original (milk chocolate with a swirl of peanut butter), and one Flaming Turtle (milk chocolate, pecans, caramel, and yes, it was flambeed!). We got strawberries, bananas, pineapple, cheesecake, marshmallows, pound cake and brownies for dipping. Just seeing the dipping tray come out was exciting. It's hard to describe how good this all was. I was lusting over the cheesecake dipped in the chocolate and peanut butter fondue for days after. To be truthful, I am lusting after still at this very moment. Yum....
In the end, the bill was a bit pricey (with drinks we were at $60 and higher per person), but to recreate this experience at home would also be pricey and very time intensive. All in all I would say it is worth it for an occasional fun night out. Make sure you go with people that don't mind sharing, and have similar tastes as you so that you can try more. I will be back at some point for sure.