Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Melting Pot (Edmonton)


After hearing a coworker rave about The Melting Pot, I knew I had to pay this premier fondue restaurant a visit. It was hard to justify the price though, because it's a whopping $44/person for the classic 4-course experience, and even more for entrees that include lobster tail or other specialty items. But this is a fine dining experience, so you do get what you pay for.


The interior was nicely decorated with dim lighting in the back for a more romantic ambiance. We arrived just as the restaurant was opening up for the day, but we still had to wait 10 minutes for a table. We were told to stay in the waiting area until someone was free to lead us to our seats. I didn't really understand that because there was nothing to set up, and it was unreasonable for them not to seat us first thing, especially since the place was completely empty. However, this was the only kink in the service, so we were reasonably happy with the overall experience.


Between the three of us, we ordered the Big Night Out America Fondue Fusion for two ($102) and a regular Seafood Trio entree ($28). The Big Night Out is a seasonal 4-course menu with a changing theme, and the theme at the time of our visit was Big Night Out America. I liked the entree and dessert for this theme, but did not like the cheese fondue and salad options (Boston lager cheddar cheese fondue and Wisconsin iceberg wedge salad). Luckily the restaurant allows substitutions for everything apart from the entree.

Course #1: Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue
The cheese fondue was prepared table-side. First a veggie broth was poured into the empty fondue pot. Next came the garlic, spinach, artichoke, and a few dashes of Tabasco to spice things up. Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses were added last, and the server stirred and whisked until the cheeses melted into a gooey sauce.


Bread, nachos, apples and raw veggies were served with the cheese fondue. The portions were a bit small for three people, but that wasn't a big issue since there were still 3 courses to go!


Course #2: California Salad
The California salad was a mix of baby greens, Roma tomatoes, candied pecans and Gorgonzola cheese with raspberry black walnut vinaigrette. The dressing was light and fruity, and the crunchy sugar-coated pecans were the best! I wanted more of those tasty nuts in there!


Course #3: Big Night Out America Fondue Fusion; Seafood Trio
Welcome to Western style hot pot! We picked the mojo soup base (+$7/pot), a Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with a distinctive fresh-garlic flavour and a citrus flair. This was also prepared table-side using broth, garlic, lime, orange juice and cilantro. A variety of sauces was provided for dipping the food, much like in Chinese style hot pot. These included green goddess (blend of cream cheese, sour cream, onions, chives and parsley; great for making stuffed mushrooms), teriyaki glaze, cocktail sauce, ginger plum (my favourite: great with chicken and pretty much everything), Gorgonzola port, curry (yogurt-based), fresh lemon juice and melted butter (perfect for lobster!).


Cooking instructions were simple: 2 mins for everything that walked on land, 1.5 mins for everything else.

The 3 Entrees

Big Night Out America Fondue Fusion:
Cold-Water Lobster Tail, Seasoned Choice Angus Sirloin, Old Bay® Shrimp, Buffalo Chicken, Memphis-Style BBQ Pork Tenderloin and Wild Mushroom Sacchetti


Seafood Trio:
Sesame-Crusted Tuna, Succulent White Shrimp and Atlantic Salmon


A small side of veggies was served with the entrees. Our waitress instructed us to stuff the mushroom caps with the green goddess sauce and float them on the soup to cook. I really hate mushrooms and I still enjoyed these ones, so I would recommend trying them.


Course #4: Chocolate Wildberry Crunch Fondue
This fondue was supposed to come with milk chocolate, but I wanted dark chocolate and this was accommodated with no issues. Hurray for substitutions! The dessert was a twist on the peanut butter and jelly combination. Within the creamy and rich dark chocolate was chunky peanut butter and a puree of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.


The dipping items included strawberries, banana, pineapple, marshmallows, brownies, cake squares and cheesecake. I enjoyed the fruit and the brownie, but did not like the marshmallows and cheesecake.


I signed up for Club Fondue online and got a coupon for 6 chocolate-dipped strawberries to take home. They were good, but I don't think I would buy them at full price. My favourite was the dark chocolate; I found the milk and white chocolate coatings too sweet.


Overall my meal at The Melting Pot was a very enjoyable dining experience. Prices were a bit steep, so I would only come here on a splurge or for special occasions. If you decide to try this place out, make sure you have lots of time because a full 4-course meal takes about 3 hours.

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3 comments:

pyaria on August 18, 2013 2:48 pm said...

Was the service fine-dining quality?

In reference to your waiting for 10 min for a table: the chef at my cooking class told us that when he worked for a 4-5 Michelin star hotel in Europe, they had a policy of saying "no vacancy" to all walk-ins, even if the hotel was completely empty, because they wanted to discourage the idea that you could just walk into this hotel and get a room. No reservations, no room; simple as that.

That sounded a little elitist and extreme for me, but then I wondered if this is the North American "nouveau riche" mentality working in me. I haven't decided yet.

krispy on August 19, 2013 12:41 am said...

Hmm the service was good, but not exceptional.

I don't think they made us wait because they wanted to appear high-end... The group in front of us were seated quite promptly. Then the hostess and other staff just went off somewhere and didn't come back to seat us.

pyaria on August 19, 2013 12:25 pm said...

That's rather unprofessional for a high-end restaurant.

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