Steph and I rarely go out for fancy dinners, given our general lack of appreciation for epicurean delicacies and the associated costs, so when we have the opportunity to try somewhere nice for a special occasion, we try to make it count. I think the 4-course meal at The Melting Pot in San Mateo totally exceeded our expectations, scoring a perfect 10 overall for our first anniversary dinner.
Okay, at first, it almost turned into a disaster, as we could not even FIND the place. We drove all the way down B street and decided to park in the Caltrain station parking lot since it was after business hours. Then we walked. And walked. And walked. As our reservation time approached and our teeth began to chatter in the chilly evening, I finally gave in and called the restaurant to ask for a hint. It turned out they were located literally 30 feet from where I had parked, because they were a part of the train station complex. Whoops. (And for those of you who have visited the one in San Mateo, yes, I KNOW there is a HUGE SIGN in front of the restaurant. I just didn’t see it, okay?) We finally ran in the restaurant and were promptly ushered to the Lover’s Lane section of the restaurant, where we were seated in a cozy 2-person booth complete with a Happy Anniversary card. Nice. Without wasting a moment, our waiter started heating up the fondue pot. Does anyone know if that is an induction stovetop?
Well, after looking through the entire menu to try to figure out the best deal, we decided to go all out and order The Melting Pot’s “Big Night Out” special 4-course fondue meal. (Okay, that was also the only thing my “$20 Off” Entertainment Guide coupon was good for, apparently.) We started off with a Mediterranean Cheese Fondue, composed of “Fontina and Grùyere cheeses blended with roasted garlic, dates, shallots, and a touch of white truffle oil.” To dip, we had French, Rye, and Pumpernickel bread cubes, raw carrots, cauliflower, and celery bites, and Granny Smith apples. We’re not sure, but we suspect it was the white truffle oil that had a really strong taste. Maybe we should’ve asked the waiter for a small sample before agreeing to have him mix it in. Anyway, this was our first cheese fondue experience ever, and my personal favorite was the cheese on apple combo. It tastes better than it sounds. =]
I think most customers must finish the appetizer course really fast, because the waiter came by at least 5 times while Steph and I were trying to savor the cheese experience. He also brought us the salads. Steph got the House Salad consisting of “crisp greens, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, and Emmenthaler Swiss cheese, served with their sweet and tangy House Dressing.” I got the Athenian Salad, which was “crisp romaine and iceberg lettuce, ham, pepperoni, roasted red pepper, Kalamata olives tossed in a light white balsamic vinaigrette, sprinkled with Feta cheese.” (I’m quoting the “souvenir menu” from the restaurant, in case you were starting to wonder.) By now, I think both of us were pretty full already. Hmm…
Now that we were stuffed with cheese apples and Athenian salads, it was time for the main course. We chose to have our fondue pot filled with the Court Bouillon seasoned vegetable broth with the additional flavors of fresh herbs, mushrooms, garlic, spices, and burgundy wine (the “Coq au Vin” option). Our Fondue Fusion entrée selection included the following delectable delights: Lobster tail, filet mignon medallions, balsamic-marinated sirloin, garlic and herb chicken, citrus pork terderloin, white shrimp, wild mushroom ravioli, roasted red pepper rigatoni, and a plate of fresh mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, and squash. We were shocked by the huge plate of food and I was barely able to process anything the waiter said as he instructed us on how to engage in proper fondue etiquette. (“Remember to cook the meat in the fondue pot for 2 minutes, and vegetables for at least 1.5 minutes. And try not to cross-contaminate your utensils and give yourself food poisoning.”) It’s time for some hotpot!
The waiter left us for a good long time with the main course, probably because he could tell it would take us a good long time to finish it. Often at fancy restaurants, we’ve experienced the “quality over quantity” phenomenon, and in some places, maybe the “quantity but low quality” problem, but we had no need to worry about either issue tonight. The filet mignon was really tender, the chicken was very well marinated, and the lobster tail was just about perfect. They also supplied us with a bottle of their signature Garlic and Wine Seasoning, but we really didn’t need much of that. However, the little cups of dipping sauces were fun and tasty. Thumbs up for the teriyaki glaze, ginger plum sauce, and very flavorful yogurt curry. And of course, after the main course comes dessert. We had the Raspberry Dark Chocolate Fondue, with a hint of hazelnut. We got so excited that we dug right into the strawberries, banana slices, rice krispies treats, pound cake, and graham cracker and Oreo-covered marshmallows before I had a chance to take a photo. Even though at first the plate looked a bit smaller than we had expected, it was really just right, especially as we were already so stuffed from the previous three courses.
We made it! It’s so rare that Steph and I so thoroughly enjoy a meal like this, so this was simply perfect for an anniversary dinner. Highly recommended. Check out http://themeltingpot.com for more details. And click the “Club Fondue” link to get your own free Dessert Fondue during your next visit (purchase required for free product)!
What’s your favorite dining experience? (Winning entries may be eligible to convince Kenneth to take Steph on an all-expenses paid trip to your restaurant of choice.) =]