“I can’t walk by chocolate without eating it.”
I always think of fondue as chocolate and bits of marshmallow and fruits to dip in it but since the Melting Pot opened in Albany I’ve wanted to go and see what it was like to have savory fondue. I signed up for their email club hoping for a special or deal I can be a part of (you can also find them online here: http://www.meltingpot.com/albany-ny/specials). I’ve heard that this place is expensive but I still wanted to try it for myself. I happened to catch a special in my email about Double Date night- 4 people for about $130 which is about $33 without tax/tip. I didn’t think that to be a terrible price, especially when we were going to be served 4 courses: cheese fondue, salad, entrée and chocolate fondue.
We sat down in our own private booth and it honestly felt like we were by ourselves in the restaurant because we couldn’t see anyone else nor could we heard the people on either side of us, very private which enhanced the experience. To start, we ordered the cheese fondue. Since it was a double date special, each couple was able to order a kind of cheese fondue. We ordered the cheddar cheese fondue that included aged medium-sharp cheddar and Emmenthaler Swiss cheese melted together with lager beer, garlic and seasonings. Our friends ordered the spinach artichoke cheese fondue with rich fontina and Butterkase cheese with spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic. I did enjoy the cheddar cheese fondue and you were able to taste the beer a little bit but there was no beating the spinach artichoke, in my opinion. With the cheese we were given different types of bread, granny smith apples and some vegetables like carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. If you’ve never had apples or broccoli with cheddar cheese, I recommend it, it’s delicious. The carrots and cauliflower were a little strange with the cheese because there weren’t much flavor to the vegetables so it watered the cheese flavor down. All in all, if you’re going to order cheese, don’t forget the spinach artichoke but be careful when you get to the bottom because the cheese closest to the burner is very very hot. That may seem obvious but for us, we didn’t realize we were close to the burner and ended up burning our tongues!
Next course was the salads. We each ordered our own salad and they were very fresh and delicious. I ordered the California salad which had mixed baby greens, Roma tomatoes, candied pecans and rich gorgonzola cheese with raspberry black walnut vinaigrette. I didn’t want to eat the whole thing knowing that I had two courses left but it was delicious, especially the dressing, and I couldn’t stop. I don’t like pecans very much but the flavor wasn’t too strong, especially with the raspberry walnut dressing. It all felt fresh and healthy, if it’s possible to not use that to describe a salad, but it was a nice break between the cheese and our entrees.
Our dinner was also fondue but we had to pick our cooking styles. We decided on Mojo which is Caribbean-inspired bouillon featuring fresh garlic and citrus flavors and court bouillon which was vegetable broth hand-seasoned with herbs and spices. I think my favorite part of the whole experience was that we were able to watch them mix each of our fondues right in front of us. We saw them add the fresh garlic and spices and with the cheese fondue we were able to watch the cheese melt and know what was in the pots. With the entrée, we were given button mushrooms, broccoli, mushroom dumplings, potatoes, pork, chicken, shrimp and steak. We were given special plates for compartments for the sauces and two big spaces for our main food. Our waitress explained that no raw food should touch our plates and if they do, to contact her immediately and she will get us a new plate so that we didn’t get a disease from the raw meat. For sauces we had curry, green goddess (cream cheese, sour cream, onions and chives), teriyaki glaze, gorgonzola port and ginger plum. With each sauce our waitress described what each would pair well with but I was so overwhelmed with all the food that was placed in front of me, I forgot and just used all of them with trial and error.
The waitress assured us that we could not overcook our food and it’s better to be safe than get e-coli. We each had two fondue forks left so most of the time was spent waiting for our food to cook but it was fun to watch the vegetable pop up to the top and try the different meats in the different cooking styles. Mojo was delicious, it was a little spicy but I really enjoyed how it made the mushroom dumplings taste in particular. The vegetable broth was spicier than I expected it to be but I liked how it enhanced the flavor.
After we finished all of that food, I almost forgot that we still had dessert coming. With each of the chocolate fondue choices we got strawberries, bananas, cheesecake, Rice Krispies Treats, marshmallows, pound cake and brownies. We decided on the bananas foster which has bananas and a hint of cinnamon swirled in white chocolate which is flambéed tableside. We also ordered the Cookies n’ Cream Marshmallow Dream with marshmallow cream flambéed and topped with bits of Oreos. Oh wow was this delicious. I could just go in there and order chocolate because that was the highlight of the night, especially with them flambéing it at the table.
Overall, the food was pretty delicious. Sure, it’s expensive but you’re paying for the experience and I didn’t think that $32/pp was too bad for all the food we were able to eat. Just be careful when ordering alcoholic drinks, each of the “fancy” drinks are about $10 a piece and you can lose track of how many when they’re that delicious and run up your check at the end especially when the experience lasts about an hour and a half. But everyone deserves a splurge now and then, though, right?