Much to JG’s chagrin, last night’s birthday-weekend dinner didn’t turn out to be a total surprise.
See, a few days earlier, I mentioned that Saturday would be kind of a sad day for me; I just didn’t want to JG to be all freaked out if I was crying for no apparent reason. He hugged me and said, “Sorry, dear. Is there anything I can do?”
I didn’t expect an opportunity like this. I had an internal ethical battle … for about a second. “What if you told me where we were going for dinner?”
“Fine,” he groaned. “We’re going to The Melting Pot.”
“Yes!” I crowed with victory and then backpedaled a bit. “I didn’t tell you about Saturday just to make you tell me…”
For real! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway. We had never been to The Melting Pot before, but after hearing rave reviews from our friends, I asked JG if we could go there for an anniversary sometime in the future. As a birthday surprise, it was pretty hard to beat. For those who may live in one of the fifteen states without one of these restaurants, the idea behind The Melting Pot is that you get a multi-course meal of fondue:
- Appetizer: bread, vegetables, and apples dipped in cheese fondue
- Salad: okay, this course isn’t fondue
- Entrée: selection of raw meat cooked in a vegetable-broth-base
- Dessert: strawberries, cheesecake, and pound cake to dip in chocolate fondue
We mixed and matched the different types of fondue for a combination of a lager-based cheddar dip; a burgundy wine coq au vin cooking broth with lobster tail, ahi tuna, pot stickers, and shrimp; and a mixture of white and dark chocolate fondue. I have to say - oh, my goodness. Yum.
Our fantastic waiter whipped up the fondue courses in front of us, so it was entertaining as well as amazingly tasty. I was expecting a Cheez Whiz-type cheese fondue, but I was pleasantly surprised to have a garlicky, lager-tinged sauce. The apples seemed odd to me at first, but I enjoyed the hot and cold contrast. An added bonus was that the fruit and vegetables helped to minimize the fact that we were consuming the majority of a bowl of melted cheese.
After we ate our salads, our waiter set out platters of raw meat and vegetables, a double-boiler of cooking broth, and something like eight sauces for dipping. He gave us a quick tutorial on meat doneness and separating raw meat from the cooked stuff (which JG loved since he is Mr. Food Safety) and we went for it. There is something oddly satisfying about spearing pieces of meat, dunking them into a vat of bubbling liquid, and dipping them into melted butter, teriyaki sauce, or a spicy wasabi. The lobster was to die for and, just like our waiter said, the curry sauce really could go on anything. Seeing each other through the steam wafting up from the fondue pot, JG and I happily polished off the entrée, but we were careful to leave some room for dessert.
Are there many things much tastier than strawberries dipped in chocolate? Or chunks of cheesecake? Or marshmallows? We were already very full from the first three courses, but dessert pushed us over the edge onto a level of fullness that was on the verge of a food coma. It’s how I imagine bears might feel when they’re just about ready to hibernate for the winter. Mm …
Even though the element of surprise didn’t exactly work out, the dinner was a fantastic success. I had a bright raspberry martini, I dressed up and felt sassy, and JG and I had a wonderful night out together with amazing food. It was one of those rare occasions when I could not have thought of anything that would have made for a better time.