Melting Pot Fondue Atlanta MidTown Restaurant Review
Located in the heart of Atlanta, The Melting Pot proves the theory that, indeed, cheese does have power. However, this superhero ingredient is not the only one saving the day against the foe of boring meals – and the others are not mere sidekicks either.
Recently, my mother and I decided to spend a Mother/Daughter Day together just because. Having never tried The Melting Pot – and being a fondue enthusiast – my mother suggested we treat ourselves. Getting my agreement was not difficult.
While she parked, I walked in the door from a busy Midtown street and immediately was greeted by one of the most distinctive signs that this was not a standard issue kind of place: crackles, laughter, bubbling, and under it all the hiss and tink tinking sound of proper fondue. Much as cheese is loved, that hissing sound of food cooked in oil exactly the right temperature is what I was excited to hear. Upon reaching the table, fondue warmer built in, my mother and I were educated on the fon-dos and fon-don’ts of how best to enjoy our meal with a perfectly delivered line of patter backed up with actual knowledge from the server.
No mindless drones here! Though some would be put off by idea of a necessary crash course on how to eat their dinner, the humor and demeanor of the server immediately set the adventurous tone for the evening. Even my worldly, though sometimes hesitant, mother listened with a grin as the evening’s choices were spread in words before her. Wine chosen – and there are quite a few choices – we perused our menus. Much as I love The Melting Pot, here is the source of one of my only gripes.
The menu setup is one of the few flaws of the restaurant. It is limited, especially considering the myriad of fresh ingredients seen in the span of four course dinner. There are limited choices for individual entrees, and if you decide to go with their Four-Course Classic Special to save costs, there is variety but the majority is meat. Vegetarians do have an option on the individual menu but it does not include the cheese or dessert, and the bill adds up. There are multiple cooking styles (read: the type of oil and seasonings) but hope that your table can agree on things because it’s obviously one per pot.
For midsized groups this can lead to some haggling and compromising, but it’s perfect for couples – especially those on a romantic date. Large groups get more than one pot, so the issue becomes moot. Despite all this, if you want more than one type of fondue, and of naturally almost everyone does, the Four-Course Classic is the way to do it. We decided to go with the Coq au Vin cooking style, described on the menu as “Flavors of fresh herbs, mushrooms, garlic, spices and burgundy wine.” First though, was what everyone thinks of when they think fondue: The Cheese.
From the menu:
Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue
Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses, spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic
Fiesta Cheese Fondue
Cheddar cheese with lager beer, jalapeño peppers and salsa made as spicy as you like
Cheddar Cheese Fondue
Aged, medium-sharp Cheddar and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses, lager beer, garlic and seasonings
Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue
Fontina, Butterkäse and Buttermilk Bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry
Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue
Gruyère and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses, white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon and Kirschwasser
Remember the comment about haggling and compromising? Expect to see more of it when the question of cheese selection comes up. Every choice is well worth it, and the thought of absconding with the cooktop from the table behind us crossed my mind more than once. Settling on the Wisconsin Trio, our meal began in earnest.
The server grated our cheese directly into our now warmed and ready fondue pot and set out our dipping choices. The three cheeses melted into a smooth blend and I was impressed at the obvious quality of the ingredients. There was absolutely no fake, processed, taste and the viscosity – the thickness – was perfect. We each speared a chunk of bread and dipped in.
The bread was obviously house made, or the closest thing to. The crusts were just crunchy enough with a soft porous inside that soaked up the cheese. The cheese was thin enough for us to dip without fear of losing the waiting bite, while being thick enough to stay on what was dipped long enough to make it to the side cooling plate. (For the uninitiated, the proper way to eat fondue is to dip your choice, transfer off the fondue fork onto a personal side plate, then eat. Of course, it’s fondue.
The point is to have fun and be untraditional… but the side plate does function to save mouths from burning.) In addition to the bread, there were assorted vegetables and fruits to dip as well, such as broccoli, apples, cauliflower, and the like. I knew the broccoli and cheese would be a good combination but was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the apples were when dipped. The softness of the cheese and the crispness of the apple complemented each other well, and I am not entirely sure my mother got to taste any.
We were scraping the pot when our salads arrived. The emphasis obviously being elsewhere, I half expected the quality to be skimped on this course. I was wrong. Every leaf was crisp and the dressings were house made. There was not a wilted veggie in sight and I began to wonder how I was going to eat all four courses if I kept this up. My advice: go hungry. I resisted the urge to lose all manners and ask for absurd amounts of the homemade dressing to hide in the take-home box I knew I would need.
Our entrée arrived with timing that made me suspect the kitchen was CIA trained. Having worked in the restaurant industry myself, I understood the effort that went into this kind of detail – and the impressive part was its consistency. I cannot recall seeing the bottom of my glass once, nor looking around in craning neck fashion because some need had been overlooked. This is rare.
While preparing our oil for the main course right at the table, our server explained the process to insure our foods cooked safely. He fielded all the questions smoothly, and left us to our forks. For the first fork spearing, I chose the Ahi Tuna, a favorite, and my mother the Teriyaki Sirloin. The oil was fragrant and flavored just enough to taste but not to overpower. We never had a problem with it popping or not cooking fast enough, as the temperature was steadily checked by our server each time he came to the table. The food itself was again of very high quality, and one of the few times I can say the company/menu pictures matched what I actually ate. And we ate; the portions were generous and toward the end of the course, we were feeling replete. Saving the extra was simply a matter of cooking it and putting it in to-go boxes.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the sauces that were served with the meal. The Green Goddess was the obvious favorite for both of us and we took to making our own stuffed mushrooms with it. The Gorgonzola Port was a close second, and though neither of us were big fans of the Ginger Plum, I know others who would be.
For dessert we couldn’t resist the description of the Chocolate S’mores: “Milk chocolate topped with marshmallow cream, flambéed and garnished with graham cracker pieces.” To dip, there were the expected choices of strawberries and the like, along with the less traditional choices of things like Rice Krispie Treats. The flambé of the chocolate gave it extra depth of taste, and we finished the meal laughing while telling stories of childhood camping mishaps.
754 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
Full Dinner Service:
Sun.-Thurs. 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Fri-Sat. 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
Cheese/Chocolate Service Only
Sun.-Thurs. 10 p.m.-11 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11 p.m.-12 a.m.
Recommended? For the experience and the quality of the food, even at the price tag of around $100 for two people, The Melting Pot is well worth the trip.
The Review is written by Melissa Lynn Felton