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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Do You Fondue? The Melting Pot Reborn!

About a year ago, I was aghast to wake up one morning and check Facebook to discover that my local branch of The Melting Pot was closing. No warning, no nothing. Just 'Sorry, we're closed effective literally now.' I mean yeah, the chain itself wasn't going away, but having one literally ten minutes up the road that I could drag out-of-town friends to had always been nice. And I'm a fiend for that place.

Then, not long ago, Facebook surprised me again: The Melting Pot rose from the ashes, posting photos leading up to its grand re-opening. And then, better still, my mom told me she'd be doing a road show out there for her radio station, and I could come along.

Um, yes.

While a lot of what I did was video and social media for my mom's fundraiser (which I'll report back on the success of later, but it seems it was off to a good start), I was also there to see what changed, and how. I always loved the place as it was, but I'd heard improvements were made, and I was curious to see what they were.

First off, the video I made with my mom, just so you can see what was up:


Now, the actual menu and experience.

The Place Itself

The exterior got a big overhaul, and I really like the new aesthetic. The inside has barely changed, so it was familiar, but the outside decor is a little more rustic, a little more eye-catching. It also looks like they're setting up to have a patio dining area, which wasn't ready when we went (we used that fenced-in area for the road show itself), but should be soon.

Drinks

I'm a big fan of hard liquor and vintage cocktails, so I tried a Melting Pot Mule -- their spin on a Moscow Mule. Very citrus-y, very nice. The second one was mixed distinctly stronger than the first (which I didn't mind at all). My mom had a Pinot, which she seemed quite pleased with.

First Course: Cheese

I saw my usual favourites on the menu, as well as a few new ones. Between us, we decided on the baked potato cheddar fondue: vegetable stock, cheddar, their Green Goddess dressing, bits of potato, little bit of bacon, and some other things I'm sure I missed.

It was amazing.

Apparently this is off an extended list that specific venues can choose one or two from to add to their menu, and it was a great choice. Also, and I'm not sure if this is for all the cheeses or just certain ones, the herb focaccia has been replaced with a soft pretzel bread. It complemented this one quite well.

Second Course: Salad

I got my usual California salad. No variation here. I get it because I like it, and it tastes as good as it always does.

Third Course: Meat and Cooking Broth

For this, we already had our entree chosen for us: the 'Karen West Platter.' Specifically it was teriyaki beef, herb-encrusted chicken, Pacific white shrimp, and a single large sun-dried tomato and mascarpone ravioli. We went with the coq au vin cooking style, which you can see in the video and which our waitress (the owner's wife) said would be a good bed with this platter.

Again, consistently great. A lot of things I've had in here before and they taste as I remember, and the new things were awesome. Also, the platters were just big enough. When you're grazing, you think you're not gonna fill up, but you really do. I didn't feel daunted by the size of the entree, but I by no means left hungry.

Fourth Course: Chocolate

Oh, man. This was great. We went with the English toffee chocolate, which had crushed Heath bars in it. Great choice. Their dessert dippers are essentially the same, with the removal of the cheesecake slice (which was an understandable idea but always more trouble than it was worth) and the addition of things like chocolate chip cookie bars. The dessert plate now is a lot more balanced than it used to be, and quality-wise as good as always.

Also, they brought me out a cup of tea with creamer to the road show table. Super nice and accommodating there.

So, final thoughts... It's still the Melting Pot I love, but the tiny complaints I would have made (and a few I didn't know I had) were tweaked and fixed up. I'm happy that it was what I expected when I came in plus some, rather than a hard overhaul into something unfamiliar.

Apparently they're doing unlimited cheese and chocolate on Labor Day. And I know where I'm gonna be.