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Jan 11, 2001 11:09 PM


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I would like to know if there is a good fondue
restaurant in the Bay Area. Is La Fondue still open?
Is there a Melting Pot restaurant in the Northern
California region??



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  1. Hey Evan! Planning another school outing? The best known Swiss restaurant in the Bay Area is Matterhorn in San Francisco on Van Ness Ave. near Vallejo. I understand the Swiss consulate staff plan a lot of functions there.

    It's been about a year since I've been there, so not the freshest of information, but I doubt it's changed much. The interior is very atmospheric with lots of knotty pine carved like an alpine ski chalet, and seating is in wooden booths. A number of cheese fondues with accompaniments are offered (beef as well) and other regional specialties. The cheese fondue menu includes combinations of various cheeses. The last time I was there we picked one with camembert in the blend which was probably my least favorite choice. The fondues are made with wine, which may be a problem for PU, but perhaps you could inquire in advance about non-alcoholic versions. Prices are quite reasonable and the atmosphere makes for a fun communal evening.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      Cynthia Tuthill

      I'm glad to hear about this restaurant, Melanie. There was a "Swiss Chalet" (I think the name of the attached bakery was Aubergine) in Menlo Park until about 3 months ago, when they closed their doors. I used to go there for lunches with my father-in-law and we were both crestfallen when we arrived one day for lunch and it was already gone. I also remember the fondue place we used to go to when we were at Cal (go bears!), it was called something like "Fondue Fred's" (?).

      1. re: Cynthia Tuthill

        Believe it or not, Fondue Fred is still alive and well in Berkeley. I actually have a very fond Fondue Fred memory from many years ago, when I went there with a good friend and found out in the course of the meal that it was his first ever fondue experience. I will always remember the look of sheer wonder on his face when I said he ought to save room for the chocolate fondue for dessert...he had never heard of chocolate fondue before and was awestruck by the concept. (Don't ask me how this otherwise worldly and well-traveled person had reached adulthood with no fondue experience or knowledge.)

        1. re: Caitlin
          Alexandra Eisler

          Wow, hard to believe Fondue Fred's is still around.

          I seem to remember finding it incredibly funny that they offered cheesecake for dessert as well as the choc fondue. (As if you could endure even one more morsel of dairy at that point.)

          er, in retrospect, maybe it was all the bad white wine that made it seem funny. (remember the plastic pitchers?)

          We actually made an excellent fondue at home during the holidays. The Cheeseboard has vacherine frebourgoise right now, which added to gruyere, makes for a lovely combination.

          p.s. go Bears

          1. re: Alexandra Eisler
            Cynthia Tuthill

            Wow ... it's great to have all this input. I was thinking of making a pilgrimage to find out if Fred's was still there ... thanks for letting me simply keep my memories! And I love making fondue myself, so maybe I'll just have a few folks over instead .... this weekend a friend suggested that I try a hot oil fondue (and simply use tofu, as I'm a vegetarian) so we don't always have to have CHEESE fondue. But, we have the kind of pot that uses Sterno ... will that get the oil hot enough? I've never done that kind of fondue.

          2. re: Caitlin

            As someone who had the unfortunate experience to eat at Fondue Fred's about a year ago, I can assure all readers that it's not what your nostalgia chalks it up to be. The fondue (all eight cheese varieties, it was a large party), was truly repugnant. Just nasty. As was the cheesecake, and the wine. Definitely not on my recommend list.

            1. re: Rachel Hope

              I think our nostalgia is just nostalgia--for a place that was, then, very of-the-time. I'd be surprised if any of us actually remember it as *good*, or would want to return! In my experience, it's difficult to find decent fondue in restaurants, period. All the good fondues I've had were homemade.

          3. re: Cynthia Tuthill

            Cyn, I was trying to remember Fondue Fred's name too! Thanks!

            Where are you lunching instead with your step-father these days?

            P.S. I really DO work full-time. (g)

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Cynthia Tuthill

              Well, the day that the Swiss Chalet was closed, Father-in-law Bill and I went to a kurdish restaurant across the street (oh, dear, now I can't remember the name .. but you'll know, Melanie, as you've suggested it to me!) and it was fantastic (I had a pizza-like item with feta cheese and onions on succulent dough, plus a salad of heart of celery which was absolutely wonderful). Another place we've gone to is "3 Fish" on El Camino, which I found rather dull (I had a salmon "burger" and it was quite tasteless). We also went to "Scala Mia" on Santa Cruz and I do like their food (especially the cheese ravioli in "pink" sauce ... quite Italian). Any other ideas for the next "date"?

              p.s. did I imply that you don't work full time? :)

              1. re: Cynthia Tuthill

                My, aren't you the wonderful daughter-in-law?!?

                The place I want to try is Cafe Silan - the owner is Kurdish and owns several Italian restaurants in the area. I've heard there's another Kurdish restaurant in Redwood City too.

        2. Bueno!

          Matterhorn in the city does fondue. I have eaten there, but I can't give you a first hand account of the fondue. We chose other stuff off the menue.