Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Melting Pot
My husband took me to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner. The Melting Pot I fell in love with fondue as a child. My mom made it for us. I remember her talking about fondue parties and such. I remember my Aunt Liz making fondue for us- it was "real" fondue. Not just melted cheese, but melted cheese with alcohol and garlic and strong flavors. Years later, I ate at The Melting Pot for the first time. I don't remember my first time clearly. But I do remember the 3 times I have now been in the last 6 years. On the occassion of my 30th birthday, a friend arranged a large dinner at The Melting Pot with a group of women from church. I ended up getting stuck working late on a huge project at work and was desperately trying to get out of the office. I rushed across town- they wouldn't seat the party until all were present. I got there and my surprise walked in- Jeff had come to celebrate with us! It was a night of a lot of laughter and story telling. About 3 years later, after expanding our family by one Teagan but not yet expecting there to ever be a Zach, Jeff and I were sent out for a date night and my mom paid for part of it and either Mom or Christy babysat. It was one of our first nights out without her, one of our first date nights. I had wine- maybe even 2 glasses. We sat in a cozy corner table designed for a romantic dinner. We didn't sit across from each other but we sat at the corners of a small table with a high booth surrounding us. We cuddled and talked and the experience was deeply relaxing and connecting. Now I turn 36. My husband knows that I want a night out where I don't have to plan or decide what we are doing or where we are going. I do so much of the planning for our family. My husband also knows that I'm not going to want an ordinary dining experience. We are a family that eats out so I'm used to picking from a menu and having my food brought to me from the kitchen. The Melting Pot was a fantastic meal- but an even better experience- last time. And Jeff worked hard to maintain the sense of surprise. I kept my eyes closed as we drove. He took alternate routes and even took a spin through a few parking lots to throw my sense of direction off track. He led me, eyes closed, from our parking spot into the restaurant. It was the best trust walk ever. He opened the door and I opened my eyes- and was so thrilled! We were led to our table- where a gorgeous red rose was waiting for me. Jeff had arranged for it. *sigh* Like last time, we did The Big Night Out. It's one price for the couple and includes all 4 courses- cheese fondue, salad, main course, and a chocolate fondue dessert. Jeff very graciously told me to order anything I wanted- he would eat any weird stuff I chose with a smile on his face. But I can't enjoy my eating experience if the other person really hates what we're eating. So I did choose items that were friendly for bothh of us. That meant no spin-artichoke fondue. Even the classic swiss might have been too strong for my hubby. We went with the cheddar. It's served with apples, bread, and raw veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots for dipping. It was quite yummy! Can't go wrong with melted cheese and the intense depth of flavors added in by the beer, garlic, and worcestershire. I tried the lettuce wraps for my salad. Jeff had the traditional house salad with ranch dressing. The wraps were tasty and interesting but I would have enjoyed the spinach and mushroom salad better, I think. But who goes to The Melting Pot for the salad?? Up next was the main course. We went with the mojo style of cooking- so many of my favorite flavors! You choose the variety of meat/seafood//fish from the menu and then you choose the cooking style. If flavor scares you, there is a more bland option- basic bouillon. But the mojo style is a chicken bouillon flavored with freshly squeezed orange juice and lime juice (they literally squeeze it in at the table), cilantro, garlic, jerk easoning, and cumin. The entree is served raw and you cook it in the communal pot on the table. Lobster tail, shrimp, steak, ahi tuna, chicken, potsickers, pork. All flavored in a variety of yummy seasonings and flavors- the shrimp was some sort of chili lime, the steak was teriyaki, the tuna was a black sesame encrusted bite of yumminess. You also get a side of veggies- we had potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms- and you cook them in the pot as well. In addition, the food is served with an enormous variety of dipping sauces. My favorite was a special sriracha aioli sauce. After cooking and dipping and eating and trying and savoring... the best part of the meal as to be the dessert! You get to choose from a large variety of options- bananas foster or turtle or plain chocolate (milk dakr, or white). We went for a dark chocolate with marshmallow swirled in- and the flambee it tableside! Whoohoo! You are serve a plate of dippers- strawberries, sliced banana, pound cake, brownie bites, cheesecake, rice krispie treats, and 2 kinds of large marshmallows. I also had 2 martinis- one was a lemmonade and elderflower martini and the other had a lot of fruit flavors. I don't recall the names but they were tasty! Best of all, Jeff and I had 2 solid hours were all we did was sit, relax, talk, eat, drink. There were no demands of being taken to the potty, no complaints about how hot something was, no wrinkled noses at the veggies, no fighting or whining. It's a meal that you don't rush through. It isn't a restaurant where you feel like you have to move along so they can turn the table. It's a place to sit, eat great food, and really enjoy your time and company. It was definitely a great birthday dinner!