The Melting Pot: worst dining experience of '08
The Melting Pot came to our area and we thought we’d give it a try, having never been to one.
We walked in late on a Tuesday evening with no reservation. They told us there would be a 20 minute wait for a table (even though there were plenty of empty tables in view).
We waited and were seated. It was another 20 minute wait for drinks to be served. (The manager came around and apologized for the wait and offered us free drinks.)
Our server heated up the pot on our table and poured in the cheese. The bread they served for dipping was bland and didn’t taste homemade.
The salad was good, but came loaded with chopped tomatoes after I had requested no tomatoes.
Next came the main dish----a platter of RAW steak and shrimp was plopped down in front of us like we were animals in a zoo. We were told to cook it ourselves in a pot of boiling water and other ingredients. Oh, dear……
The server told us how many minutes to cook each item. As she was leaving, my friend asked, “How are we supposed to time this?” “Just guess at it” came the reply.
I speared a piece of shrimp and put it in the pot. I must not have cooked it long enough, because I soon had a mouthful of undercooked shrimp.
Not being familiar with the concept, we were expecting the food to be served cooked and then we would dip it into various sauces. But, no. We cooked it ourselves and paid for the privilege.
Our server was pleasant and courteous---but nearly went cross-eyed trying to remember her spiels---when she wasn’t apologizing for things. Our table was cluttered with too many bowls, pots, and utensils. The interior of the restaurant was dark and cave-like.
Sorry to be so negative, but we honestly didn’t care for anything about The Melting Pot. Your thoughts? Any fans of this chain out there? Help us understand how they are able to stay in business…
I am no fan of The Melting Pot. The concept of paying money to cook my own food just doesn't appeal me. For the money you spend at The Melting Pot, you can buy a Fondue kit, some good quality cheese and crusty bread, and enjoy it at home with your own favorite bottle of wine.
This particular melting pot received a positive review in the newspaper not long after they opened. That, and some of the comments above tell me they must be doing something right.
Before this, the last time I was at a fondue restaurant was in '81 in Brussels Belgium. So I guess I'm really out of the loop regarding this type of dining. ha.
I like your suggestion, Sebskal......
Fondue concept chains are what you stated, you cook your own. I'd never expect anything homemade, bread etc., it's all prepared then finish baked on site. It's only marginal chow, never to be construed as above average. Also, part of the theme is entertainment at you table. I think you have too high of expectations, probably because of their prices, not cheap.
My guess is that you had never heard of fondue before entering this restaurant. The experience you describe- raw food you cook yourself at the table- is exactly what fondue is all about.
My hubby and I like the Melting Pot very much- even more so for it's 'cave-like' decor- the tall booths just for two are nice on a cold winter evening when we look for romantic dinners.
Maybe you would like the chocolate fondue better? Or perhaps you should forget fondue altogether and go to a standard restaurant where you would be more comfortable- expecting to be served cooked food on a plate.
My wife and I actually enjoy the Melting Pot quite a bit. It is unfortunate that you did not have a good experience and that you did not understand what it was before you went in. We like it because it is a long meal that allows us to have some quality time together without the kid. We also like the various dipping sauces that come along with the meats. We don't go often but we do usually stop in once a year or so. I know a number of people who go just for the desserts.
The Melting Pot does offer the choice for oil or a couple of different broths. We usually go for their Coq Au Vin when we go.
They probably stay in business because it's hard to find a fondue restaurant in most areas. Yes, it's a chain, but that makes them more available and helps keep costs down. They may not be the best for fondue, but I've certainly been to worse places.
I'm sorry you didn't understand the concept of fondue before heading out to dinner. It may have altered your perception of the meal entirely. Cheese fondue is usually served with bread and/or raw veggies. It's not surprising that the bread was bland - it's really just a vehicle for the cheese! Entree fondues are served as raw meat, chicken, seafood, or veggies that you cook in pots of broth. Hot oil is also used, but I suspect not at The Melting Pot. Probably too much risk for people burning themselves with hot oil.
It does get cluttered with the pot, plates, utensils, and dipping sauces, but it's kind of expected. It's no more cluttering than a Korean restaurant with all the panchan dishes. It's just part of the experience.
While I don't care for Melting Pot in particular (and agree with you about the cave-like decor) what they do is what one would expect at a fondue restaurant- also at a hot pot or shabu shabu restaurant. All those types of restaurant serve you the raw ingredients and you cook it yourself at the table. Many people find it a convivial experience, and I actually think it's good for a first date in particular, as it gives you something to do during those awkward pauses. But It sounds like "cook your own" food isn't for you, so now you know better!