First Time at the Melting Pot
My husband and I went to the Melting Pot in Somerville, NJ for the first time last night. It was our anniversary. Normally we won't go to a chain restaurant for our anniversary, but I LOVE fondue and we hadn't tried this place yet.
Overall, the experience was very good. We had the big four course meal, "The Big Night Out" or whatever they call it. For the cheese course, we had the Wisconsin blend of cheeses. I don't remember what all the cheeses were, but they were good if a bit bland compared to the traditional Swiss/Emmenthaler blend. They serve the cheese with Granny Smith apples, carrots, celery, cauliflower and rye/French/pumpernickel bread. The rye bread didn't really "go" with the cheese, but everything else was great, especially the apples.
For the entree, we had the lobster tail platter, which also included chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, and vegetables. We chose the Coq au Vin broth. I could have skipped this course. It was way too much food. It's a fun experience, but at 2 minutes/piece of meat, it takes awhile to eat it all, even if you dump a few pieces at a time into the broth.
For dessert, we had the flaming turtle, which was chocolate, pecans, and caramel, although I couldn't really taste the caramel. Came with strawberries, pineapple, pound cake, brownies, marshmallows, and cheesecake. That sounds like a lot, but it was really tiny pieces of poundcake and brownie, and even tiny strawberries. They offered us more fruit but we were too full to eat any more.
The worst part of the experience, I think, was the service. The server was very attentive at first, explaining everything in painful detail. She disappeared about half way thru the entree and I finally had to go up to the hostess and ask for dessert. Which the hostess also served. The original server eventually showed up in time to bring the bill.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience because it's such a novelty. I would definitely go back, but only for a la carte cheese and/or dessert.
Your experience sounds pretty typical of the Melting Pot. I went there more than five years ago and it seems like portions have grown even more since then. Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime place, meanign that's how often you'd want to go.
I went to one for the first time in Philadelphia on Saturday night. I had a better time than I was anticipating, but I also think that once is enough. Was in a group of 30, 10 at our table and 20 at another table. Our group of 10 had fun, although several of the older ladies had trouble with the whole concept. We had three kinds of cheese fondue, the mixed meat, seafood entree in the the broth and three kinds of chocolate fondue. It was a lot of food. since I am not a fruit eater, the chocolate fondue did not do that much for me since I only ate a couple of pieces of cake and marshmallow. The dark chocolate was the best. It took a long time to eat. Based on the menu prices, it was pretty pricey. I know we got a cheaper rate for a group, but still not cheap. I think I have it out of my system.
Actually, I'd definitely advise you to wait a few months (or at least weeks) before heading there - I went to the Pasadena one when it first opened and the service was absolutely horrendous (which I attribute to a new restaurant working its tweaks out, and the servers & managers not up to snuff, understandable, but doesn't make the agonizing wait any less... well, agonizing) -- sure enough, when I returned half a year later, drastic improvement! (also notice that several other hounds reporting back with disappointing reports when going to a newly-opened MP)
Don't be too sure that service will improve! Went to the Irvine, Ca. location a couple of weeks ago . They have been open for several years and the service was the worse I have experienced anyplace!! Their presentation regarding the dips and sauces was so fast, we were left with no clue what went with what and then waiter disappeared. Took forever to get another bottle of wine which was brought to table by a hostess and plunked down in front of a guest rather than the host who had ordered. It became a pour it yourself situation.
They put an automatic 18% tip on the bill. Guess they figure that is the only way anyone will pay for the terrible service.
The one in Cincinnati is great! I've been three times and the service is wonderful, the food is fresh and well made and the ambiance is nice. I agree it is a lot of food (but then don't order the Big Night Out, you can order the courses separately) and it isn't food you can take home in a doggie bag, but everything is delicious. Sometimes I feel like it is the only place I can truely get my beef cooked medium rare (because I cook it myself). I can see how the service may be alittle off...there is a lot more to serving food there than at a regular restaurant, but the one time we had a trainee, she had a senior staff member with her the whole time who helped her out. I see it not only as a meal, but as a night of entertainment since the meal takes so long to cook and eat, so I don't think the price is that bad either.
As a surprise, we took our son to the MPot for his 16th birthday. He loved it.
We weren't disappointed with the food, service, portions or price..several friends had already shared their experiences but we did have a few recommendations.
Better lighting-we didn't like cooking raw chicken in dim light
A table timer - so we could tell in a dark room when the chicken should be done
Reasonable wine prices - glasses started at 9.00
On a more positive note: If you vist the MP website, register and receive a printable coupon for a "free for two chocolate fondue" def. worth the trouble.