Melting Pot offers fondue, but with long wait and lots of work

The Melting Pot
1110 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va. (703) 243-4490
2 Hatchets
Attire: wear a bib
Price: $40 for two people
Reservations: a good idea, weekends are busy and meals are long

As one diner put it, “you need a drop-cloth to eat here.”

The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant in Arlington, Va., and coming soon to Dupont Circle, makes for a messy and time-consuming meal. Parties of more than four people run into problems while dining, as the fondue pots are at both ends of the table, forcing in-betweeners to reach far to maneuver their fondue sticks.

This is not a daytime spot. There’s a lot of procedure to eating fondue, and you’ll spend a great deal of time listening to your waiter explain the logistics.

The first feat is cheese selection. The menu offers four cheeses: cheddar, fiesta cheddar and two kinds of Swiss, each pot feeding two people The cheese course comes with tortilla chips, semi-stale bread, carrots, cauliflower and celery with free refills upon request.

If you go with the flat-rate meal, each diner receives a California, mushroom or chef salad. By the time the salad arrives, you will likely be so full from the cheese that you will not even want it. The main course is the second feat, because plate selection is confusing. One section of the menu offers varieties of meats, seafood and chicken platters called Pacific Rim, surf and turf, vegetarian and French quarter.

The unpopular third section of the menu offers single entrees for diners who choose not to go with the flat rate by cutting out the cheese and chocolate fondues. The meats, seafood and chicken are presented raw, come marinated and are served with in a number of dipping sauces, depending on the dish.

Diners choose from oils or broths to cook the food in. Each meal is served with raw vegetables – potatoes, broccoli and squash.

A cooking time suggestion sheet is pushed to the back of the table, only noticed when the meal is cleared away and your stomach is filled to capacity, while the thought of contracting salmonella due to undercooked meat looms in your head.

Dessert is probably the tastiest part of the meal, so save room for it. Dark, milk and white chocolates are the bases of the dessert menu, combined with extra sweets to enhance the flavor.

The chocolate turtle – caramel and pecans with milk chocolate – and cookies and cream fondues are favorites. All desserts are served with fruit, cheesecake, pound cake, brownies and marshmallows dipped in peanuts.

The food at the Melting Pot is nothing to rave about, but go for the unique experience. Avid “Blind Date” viewers would agree that this place is perfect for a date: the dark atmosphere and partially enclosed booths combined with the activity of cooking your own food makes for good conversation and a good time.

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