Fondue or a FUN place to go for an Anti-Valentine's Day Singles Event
I am an organizer for the Twin Cities Social Club. I'm considering hosting an Anti-Valentine's Day Party for my members and would LOVE to do fondue! I know, I know, I could host such a party at my home BUT my place is much too small and I do not have access to a community room (Are there community rooms with kitchens and lots of space available for rent (CHEAP) in the Twin Cities metro area?)
I am NOT a fan of chain restaurants, especially The Melting Pot (SO VERY EXPENSIVE!). However, I'm not sure if there is another restaurant that offers fondue in the area other than the Lowell Inn in Stillwater. Has anyone indulged there recently? I haven't been able to find any current reviews online for their fondue dinner.
If I cannot find a fondue place, is there anywhere else you could recommend that's not too expensive? Ideally, we'd like to meet first in the bar area to enjoy a cocktail and a round of autograph bingo to break the ice. From there, I'd like for us to move to another room that has several small tables set up. Each of these tables would feature an icebreaker game and after each course, I'd like everyone to be able to change tables. The concept being similar to speed-dating.
If planned properly and if the restaurant were on board with my idea, I think it would make for a very entertaining evening. After dessert, it would be nice to mingle afterwards, perhaps, listening to live music or dancing at a nearby venue.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
The Churchill apartments on First and Marquette in Downtown Minneapolis has a community room that might work. You could call and see if they'll rent it to a non-resident, when I lived there all it took was a deposit as far as I remember. It would be a short cab-ride to worthwhile bars, though.
On a venue - Solera has a large room in the back that can accommodate large groups. I hosted a surprise birthday party there for 20+ people. They were pretty good to work with - I think as good as you can get without paying through the nose for full scale personalized service. The bar scene at Solera can be pretty fun. And while I'm not sure how flexible they can be with jockeying tables around in the back room, it's possible. Also, the Solera tapas-style menu would be an ideal fit for folks doing a lot of table hopping. For the birthday party, I had "pre-ordered" a series of tapas that I figured most people would like, and then folks could order stuff on their own if they were still hungry. Might be worth a look-see.
On fondue - I get that Melting Pot is expensive. And IMO, yes, they are priced a bit too high. But that being said, a very good traditional fondue can be expensive to make, and takes a bit of skill. The traditional cheeses used - Gruyere and Emmental (and some add French Comte) - are pricey. Once you add a bottle of a decent dry white and a few tablespoons of Kircsh, not to mention a few loaves of a high quality crusty French bread, you're in it for at least $40 just for ingredients. And it takes more than just throwing it all in the pot and waiting until it melts. I've had excellent fondues in France and Switzerland, and I've had some that weren't good because of technique, not ingredients - they either "broke" or were grainy.
900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
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Fondue is never as easy as you think it is going to be. It is inherently expensive and, frankly, it's a poor use of great cheese (or a disastrous use of mediocre cheese).
Try Cafe Maude. They have private rooms, but could also provide snacks (and cheese) at the bar.
Alternately, if the private room isn't make or break, try Saffron. They have the skills and the bandwidth (and certainly the food and cocktails) to pull of an event like that.
And yes, I will keep pimping them until I see a full dining room on a Friday night, thank you.
5411 Penn Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419