The Melting Pot - Darien, CT

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 | click here to comment

Going out to dinner is a production since we had a baby. She's in full toddler mode, so any restaurant we consider not only has to have gluten-free options, which is a feat unto itself, but also need to be kid friendly, or at the very least, tolerate humans under 3 1/2 feet tall.  Luckily in CT, there are quite a few kid friendly places to go, but finding gluten-free options are a bit more challenging.

The Melting Pot, home to all things fondue, is also quite accommodating for the gluten-free eater. They have a separate gluten-free menu, with notes as to what to request from your server, ie. cornstarch to thicken the cheese fondue's in lieu of flour. I just asked for everything gluten-free and that worked fine for me, although they do list a Gorgonzola salad as being gluten-free, which is clearly not as the majority of blue cheeses, except for Boar's Head Blue cheese, are made with mold from bread. Although, a recent Serious Eats article says otherwise.

mmm apples and cheese!

I'm a fondue lover, and even though I'm completely and utterly lactose-intolerant, I will take one for the team when it comes to cheese and load up on Lactaid pills, which are amazing if you haven't tried them. For a starter, we had the Traditional Swiss Cheese fondue, which came with granny-smith apples, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and tortilla chips. It normally also includes bread, but they omitted that for me.  The base is made with shredded swiss cheese, cornstarch, wine (yum), Kirschwasser, nutmeg and lemon. It sounds strange when you read it, but it's actually quite tasty. I personally wish they used better quality cheeses, but other than that I liked it.

boil, boil, toil & trouble

We moved on to the "entree" course, which was a Shabu-shabu style fondue of vegetable broth with flavoring added to it, we had the Mojo flavor, which was citrus and garlic, but all I really tasted was the vegetable broth and a bit of light lemon flavor. The broth itself has a quite pungent aroma, like if you deeply inhaled a boullion cube.  It was actually slightly nauseating because the smell hits you as soon as you walk into the restaurant, it's not overpowering, but it's there.  Luckily the smell faded into the background when we were presented with our own fragrant soup base, with a side of raw chicken, beef and shrimp. I would not recommend sharing the meat for this course, since the amount they give you is pretty much only good for one person, but we shared and somehow made it through without gnawing on the table afterward. They give you an array of sauces to dip your meats into, I hoarded the sour cream/chive/parsley dip, it's so simple, but SO good. I could eat buckets of it - seriously.

that white stuff in the back, yeah, that is the awesome right there

The last course was dessert, and honestly was the one I was most excited about from the get-go. Molten chocolate always makes me weak in the knees, and chocolate fondue is no exception.  The dessert fondues all sounded amazing.  I was torn between The Turtle (chocolate, pecans and caramel) and the Amarreto/Dark Chocolate. The Amaretto won out, because if there is anything I like more than chocolate, it's liquor/wine and the combo of booze and chocolate is just about the best thing since sliced bread.

The chocolate itself reminded me very much of a thinner version of Hershey's Syrup, with Amaretto thrown in for good measure. The gluten-free options for dessert are limited to fruit - strawberries, bananas and pineapple to be exact, but the gluten options, OH MY.  The hubby got a dish with the gluten goodies and it made me so insanely jealous with its delcioiousness.  Marshamallows covered in Oreo cookies, cheesecake, Rice Krispie treats and more.  I happily ate my strawberries, but I'm pretty sure I gave him the stink-eye more than once as he enjoyed his confections.

Where was the baby in all this?  She was right up in the trenches enjoying our food with us! The server was kind enough to bring a bowl of bread and apples for her, which she loved.  She wasn't a huge fan of the cheese fondue, but she was totally loving the chocolate, in very tiny amounts of course! Request a booth if you ever visit one of their locations, it's great for a couple, but even better for a family with kids, because you're in your own little cocoon and don't have to worry about your kid climbing into the lap of someone sitting at the table next to you.  Not that I know anything about that! Ahem. Oh, and try the drinks, they have an amazing menu of cocktails that run the gamut from fruit juice bases to chocolate and ice cream.  Gotta love that!


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