The Melting Pot
375 W. Birch
Brea, CA 92821
I might owe the Melting Pot an apology. Whenever someone mentions the Melting Pot, or other fondue restaurants, I kind of bristle. It is not because the food is awful, or I have had bad experiences, but if you know me or read this blog, you know that I love big quantities of food. If I do not feel full after a meal, I consider it a lost night. So when I hear anyone talk about a fondue restaurant, I automatically think of a plate with ten tiny morsels of food on it. After being invited to the Melting Pot to try their new Skinny Sipping Cocktails and other items off of their menu, my mind has been changed about the Melting Pot.
The Melting Pot restaurants have been around for a long time. They opened their doors in 1975, during the heyday of fondue cooking in the US. The Maitland, Florida location was a very popular restaurant, and by 1981, there were already three locations up and running, all in Florida. By 1985 the Melting Pot began franchising, and then they spread far and wide. Melting Pot restaurants can now be found in 36 different states, Western Canada, and even two locations in Mexico City. So with 144 location across the continent, chances are there is one relatively close to you. We have two in OC, so we trekked up to the Downtown Brea location, to see what they had to offer.
For those of you not familiar with fondue cooking, there are communal hot pots on the tables, and depending on the course, these pots are filled with cheese, oil, or chocolate. Patrons use long stemmed forks to stab food and dip them in the pots to coat or cook various items. At the Melting Pot , they have three different kinds of fondue; cheese, entrees, and desserts. By this time we were getting hungry, and lucky for us the cheese fondues were being prepared table side.
We were presented with two cheese fondues to try. The first was the Spinach and Artichoke Cheese Fondue. This was made up of fontina and butterkase cheese, with spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic. The second is off of their limited time menu, the Boston Lager Cheese Fondue. Here they use Samuel Adams Boston Lager, cheddar and Emmenthaler cheeses, and then it is accented with bacon, onion, Dijon mustard, Tabasco and scallions. As much as I thought I would like this cheese fondue the best, the spinach and artichoke version was the big hit of the table, and with me. It was very subtle, but still had enough flavor to keep us interested. It went really good with the tortilla chips and cubed breads. The Boston lager cheese was good, but more of a nacho cheese vibe. The flavor was definitely more pronounced, and it went better with the fresh veggies. We were also presented with apples for dipping, which I thought was a little odd, but these two items really paired up nicely.
At the Melting Pot they not only have fondue items, but they also feature some pretty good salads. We got to sample all five on their menu. The Wisconsin Wedge Salad was one of my favorites. This salad is on their limited time menu, and is a wedge of iceberg lettuce, topped with Roma tomatoes, bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, and a very tasty peppercorn ranch dressing. Big time flavor with this one! Other salads included a Melting Pot House Salad, California Salad, a Mushroom and Spinach Salad, and a classic Caesar Salad. All of these were very fresh, and all of the dressings are made in house. These two things make for great salads.
Right after the salads, we were given this Shrimp Cocktail. To call these huge crustaceans shrimp is really a contradiction. They were huge. The cocktail sauce these were served with also packed a punch. Really spicy, and if you were not ready for the horseradish, it really could catch a person by surprise.
Our invitation did not say anything about getting any of the Melting Pot's entrees, so it was a nice surprise when these pre-cooked meats came out of the kitchen. Selections included filet mignon, white shrimp seasoned with Cajun spices, wild mushroom sacchetti, and broccoli with a green goddess sauce. These selections were not the only thing special here, the sauces are pretty impressive as well. The best is the Green Goddess sauce, which is a cream cheese/green onion dip, which goes good with everything. Other sauces included the same spicy cocktail sauce used for the shrimp cocktail, a very thick Gorgonzola dressing, a yellow curry yogurt sauce, and a teriyaki sauce. All of these were great options to dip items into.
Before we get to the grand finale, one of the main reasons we were here was so the Melting Pot could showcase their cocktails. Some of these new cocktails are made with Skinnygirl Wine and Vodka or Voli Light Vodkas, which is a vodka company owned by Fergie from the Black Eye Peas and rapper, Pitbull. The cocktails that stood out for me were the Apple Martini, with the caramel around the glass. Great drink, and the caramel was a nice touch. The Yin and Yang could have gotten me into lots of trouble as well. It was made of Godiva Whiter Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanilla Vodka, and ice cream, then topped with chocolate shavings. An adult milkshake, that packs a punch. All of the other drinks were very refreshing, and it should be considered a bonus that they are made with fewer calories than traditional cocktails. Of course that just means that I will drink more!
Everything had been great up until this point, but the chocolate fondues are very hard to top. They had two for us to try. The first was the Cookies and Cream Marshmallow Dream. This one would have made Willie Wonka envious. Dark chocolate is topped with marshmallow cream, then flambeed and topped with Oreo cookie crumbs. Very decadent. The second pot contained the Flaming Turtle. A wonderful combination of milk chocolate, caramel, and candied pecans combined to make one of my favorite items of the night. We were given bananas, strawberries, cheesecake, Rice Krispy Treats, pound cake and brownies to dip into the chocolate. How could this be a bad dessert? Short answer, it can not. A great way to end our fantastic evening at the Melting Pot.
So after all of this food, I have to admit that I was quite full. So it is possible to get to this point at a fondue restaurant. The Melting Pot is definitely a special occasion restaurant. The atmosphere here just exuded romance. This is the kind of place you want to take a date, a significant other, or maybe someone that you just want to get to know better. Meals are not rushed, so you will have plenty of time to converse. They offer four course meals, which will definitely leave you completely satisfied and full.
We would like to thank The Melting Pot for their generosity on this night. We would also like to thank everyone at The Melting Pot in Brea, including Owner, Rodney Selbo, who was an excellent bus boy for us, and answered all of our questions. Our hostess, Assistant Manager, Amber Freely was very cheerful, and really made us feel comfortable. Also worth a shout out, was our waitress on this night, Shannon, who was wonderful and kept thing moving along for us. Thanks for everything Shannon. Lastly, we would like to thank our fellow bloggers that shared this meal with us. Daniele, from Dani's Decadent Deals, Tom, from Tom's Foodie Blog, and Suki from Eat Suki Eat. We really had a great night with all of you, and look forward to seeing you all again soon.
For any information about The Melting Pot, click here for their web site: http://www.meltingpot.com/