Sunday, May 18, 2008

Birthday Fondue at the Melting Pot

Fondue is entices me with its kitsch charm. It's also makes for a fun group outing. When I was lived in Chicago, I never made it to the premier fondue joint, Geijas Cafe. Instead, I indulged my cravings at the Fondue Stube. The name charmed me. The place was (and probably still is) nestled in a residential neighborhood, not far from where I attended high school.

In Seattle, the only fondue place I know of is the Melting Pot. I'd never tried it...until my birthday this year. As long as I can remember, I have I loved the time leading up to my birthday. The night before is almost like Christmas and I don't mean the gifts aspect, but rather the excitement of your day. It's special! In my adulthood, I have continued the b-day party ritual. Planning is fun...theme, location, food. But, it is a lot of work and as the biggie approached, I realized I didn't have it in me this year. And, unlike years past, the eve prior to the big day, I found myself feeling melancholy. In spite of the large numbers I'm pulling, I still feel young and vibrant, but the digits betray me.

When Kristi suggested it for the next Girls' Night Out/My Birthday outing, everyone was on board. Once we were there that night, reviewing the menu at the Melting Pot, it was one decision after another; not an easy thing with six. The menu was a tome--many  pages, menus within the menu and options. I'm used to fondue being easy. This took some negotiating and took a bit of time.

11 Group @ Melting Pot Following are are some decisions we faced: do we get individual entrees, order the full-course menu, share options off the menu for two. There were six of us, which didn't make this any easier. Since none of us has ever been, we were unsure about portion size. We wanted to start with a cheese appetizer...that presented us with six or seven choices. We ended up with the Caribbean Cheese Fondue ("Gouda and Gran Queso cheeses blended with fresh garlic and sweet and spicy Peppadew peppers topped off with scallions and a zest of fresh lime") and a Wisconsin Cheese combo which knocked our socks off. It's making me salivate just thinking about it.

9 Jeffrey and the Cheese@ Melting Pot

Next decision: entrees. Because there were six of us and two sets were couples, Kim and I ended up, by default, a couple. All the "couples" decided on the Fondue Feast which included filet mignon (yum), jerked sirloin (yum yummers, vanilla rum chicken (boring), marinated pork tenderloin (yum), peppered shrimp (yum yummers), butternut squash ravioli (boring) and fresh veggies (broc, mushrooms). In retrospect, the six of us could have easily shared two couple orders, for we had lots of raw leftovers. We also had to decide if we wanted for the cooking base, oil or broth. We went with a "specialty" broth (Coq Au Vin was amazingly delish) but we had to shell out an extra $8 for it, which seems nitpicky. However, we could have picked the regular broth or oil for no additional charge.

Finally, we had dessert fondue to settle on. I think it was the most awaited course of the night. It was a difficult choice to make (again about seven options) but we decided on the the Original (milk chocolate with crunchy peanut butter) and the Flaming Turtle (milk chocolate, caramel and chopped pecans, "flambéed tableside"). The latter was the ultimate favorite IMHO.Kim, Jeffrey, Ben @ Melting Pot 023

Chocolate Goodness 025

Thanks to my generous friends for a wonderful birthday treat. Thanks to our good pal Jeff and his tenacious skills with the I-Phone calculator. No outing would be the same without J to tabular our individual bills. This one being particularly difficult plus a little drink in the gullet added an additional 45 minutes to an hour where he rolled up his sleeves to wrangle the bill (with some help from Kristi).

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