Friday, January 1, 2010

The Melting Pot - A Mixture of Flavor and Fun

The Melting Pot - 5455 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton FL 33487

As a Hanukkah present from my in-laws, Dan, my brother and sister-in-law, Josh and Diana and I went to a really fun--and memorable--dinner at The Melting Pot.  Known for its fondue options and table-side cooking, this dinner was more than just eating, it was an activity.

Located in a quiet, office building-ey complex, The Melting Pot is so much more than first impressions imply.  Upon walking in, we immediately took in the cabin-like scenery, the wooden booths that were slightly elevated and the privacy of each seating area.  We all agreed that it reminded us of a cozy Swiss chalet, and we certainly didn't feel like we were in Florida anymore.

Aside from the intimacy of each booth, every one is equipped with hot plates that are built directly into the table, and are to be used for fondueing.  Smaller booths have one hot plate while larger ones have two.  Temperature is controlled by your server, so you don't have to worry about messing up the heat, they take care of everything for you.

There was a plethora of fondue options, both savory and sweet, and since there were four of us, it allowed us to experiment with several things including two different cooking styles for the main dishes.

Fiesta Cheese Fondue - Ordering this as our appetizer, it came with a fondue pot filled with spicy cheddar cheese, Mexican herbs and jalapenos, that gave it a kick.  There were several dippers, including white and dark pieces of bread, standard tortilla chips, crunchy bits of apples and various veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  I couldn't believe how quickly we finished everything, as the cheese was deliciously spicy, a lovely juxtaposition with the sweet apples especially.  We ordered a portion for 3 and could've done with a 2 person one next time.

- Prior to eating our main meal, we each got a first-course salad, which came with the main dish.  Diana and I got the California salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette.  The cheese is what sold us on this, as it was tangy and sharp--a perfect complement to the fresh, juicy vegetables.

The guys got the house salad, which reminded me of a Cobb because of the slices of egg, cheddar cheese and croutons.  I had a small bite and liked it very much--especially the creamy peppercorn dressing that rounded out the flavors.

Main Dish Fondue - This was hands-down the best part of the meal.  How it worked was the following: you chose a protein such as meat or seafood, then you selected a cooking style, and finally, you cooked the raw protein in the fondue pot, filled with either oil or a flavored broth.

We each got a combination of seafood and meat, and I ordered "The French Quarter," with filet mignon, chicken breast and shrimp, spicy Cajun spices as well as Anduoille sausage.

The two cooking styles we selected were bourguignonne (European style fondue in cholesterol free canola oil) and the coq au vin (flavors of fresh herbs, mushrooms, garlic, spices and burgundy wine).  The latter sounded amazing but after experimenting with both, we strongly preferred the bourguignonne style, which produced a crispier, tastier result.  I loved also that that borguignonne came with two batters for coating your protein and veggies, including a slightly spicy tempura batter and a rice-based batter.  Out of the two, the tempura was the clear winner, producing a luxuriously crispy coating on everything. 

Despite the delicious proteins, my favorite thing to cook were the button mushrooms, which I stuffed with a blue cheese herb spread, then dipped into tempura batter and fried it.  It was crispy on the outside and oozed with the tangy cheese on the inside--what a treat!

Dessert Fondue - While we didn't save enough room for dessert, we couldn't pass it up and ordered the "Cookies and Cream Marshmallow Dream."  The base of it consisted of dark chocolate, topped with marshmallow cream and mixed together with crushed Oreos.  It took a while for it to heat to proper temperature but when it did, it was heaven.  The dippers were spectacular, including a arrangement of fresh bananas, strawberries, pound cake, brownies and cheesecake.  I liked them all, especially drizzling the decadent fondue concoction onto the creamy cheesecake--just fabulous.

Service and Cost:
We were very happy with our server, and appreciated all the special touches and clear directions he gave us.  Since The Melting Pot involves self-preparation, safety is important and he was great at explaining everything and checking in on us to make sure that everything was OK.  When the cooking oil was too hot and started splattering, he turned down the heat and gave us further tips.  He was personable and very accommodating--we couldn't ask for anything more.

Costs are reasonable for the good quality food and the fun experience:

Cheese Fondue: $16 for 2 people, +$8 for each additional person
Main Dishes: $17-$25, select cooking styles are $6 more per person
Dessert Fondue: $16 - small, $32 - regular

Overall, we had a great experience and I'd love to make it a part of our upcoming Florida traditions.  For those of you who'd like to try it in NY, here are their locations. Enjoy!

3 Loud Mmmms

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