By Sally Deering
It was my first time at a fondue restaurant and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into The Melting Pot on Sinatra Drive in Hoboken, a hip corner bistro where customers dip into delicious cheese and chocolate fondues, dine on tasty salads and cooked-to-order entrees while gazing at the spectacular views of the Manhattan Skyline outside its windows.
The dining experience at The Melting Pot is what co-owner Lina Patel calls “interactive,” because here diners don’t sit back with a knife and fork, they skewer and dip into the melted concoctions made right at their table by the wait-person. This family-owned business, a franchise that started in Florida, is a unique dining experience and a popular Hoboken night spot. On Fridays and Saturdays the 160-seat restaurant gets very busy and reservations are highly recommended.
On a recent visit to the Melting Pot, my wait-person, Blaine Climati– who has been at the Melting Pot for two years – created my Cheese Fondue by blending cheddar and Swiss cheeses, beer, garlic and mustard powder into a creamy concoction right at the table. He served it with bowls of fresh veggies, cubes of bread, tortilla chips and some sliced Granny Smith apple. With my skewer, I dipped the ingredients into the melted cheese and it was a very tasty and fun way to enjoy lunch. I followed that with the House Salad, a yummy and vast array of crunchy veggies in a sweet and tangy homemade dressing, that you can also buy and take home.
For dessert, I had the Chocolate Fondue and chose the Flaming Turtle, a melted combination of milk chocolate, caramel and roasted pecans. For dipping, it came with fresh strawberries and bananas, a slice of cheesecake, Oreo-covered marshmallows, cubes of Red Velvet cake, chocolate brownies and Rice Krispie treats. This was over-the-top deliciousness and a chocolate-lover’s dream on a plate.
There are lots of dining choices at The Melting Pot. You can go for the Big Night Out – a four course Melting Pot Experience that includes a Cheese Fondue, Salad, Entrée and Chocolate Fondue or you can go ala carte and choose from the Cheese Fondue, Salads, Entrees and Chocolate Fondue Menus.
The Cheese Fondue choices are Spinach Artichoke; Fiesta Cheese; Cheddar Cheese; Wisconsin Trio; and Traditional Swiss; ($18, serves 1-2). Salads include the House Salad, Spinach Mushroom; Caesar; and California; ($8). Entrees feature Land & Sea (filet mignon, chicken breast and white shrimp); The French Quarter (filet mignon, chicken breast, white shrimp in Cajun sauces with Andouille sausage); Seafood Trio (sesame-crusted sushi-grade ahi tuna, white shrimp and cedar-plank salmon); Shrimp & Sirloin; all-natural breast of chicken; Cedar-Plank salmon; Pacific Rim (all-natural breast of chicken, teriyaki-marinated sirloin, white shrimp, citrus-infused pork tenderloin, breast of duck and chicken and vegetable potstickers); The Vegetarian (selection of fresh vegetables including edamame or onion rings, artichoke hearts, Portobello mushrooms and asparagus served with Thai peanut –marinated tofu, spinach-artichoke ravioli and pasta); Teriyaki-Marinated Sirloin; and Filet Mignon ($24-$35).
The Chocolate Fondue ($20, serves 1-2) features The Original (milk chocolate swirled with creamy crunchy peanut butter), Yin & Yang (dark and white chocolate), Cookies ‘n Cream Marshmallow Dream (dark chocolate topped with marshmallow cream flambéed and topped with bits of Oreo cookies), Chocolate S’mores, Bananas Foster (bananas swirled in white chocolate with a hint of cinnamon), Flaming Turtle, and Milk, Dark or White Chocolate (for the chocolate purist).
The Melting Pot has extensive beer and wine lists, better than most local pubs and it has a room for private parties and a ‘Lovers Alley” – three cozy tables tucked away in a low-lit and romantic nook. Since it’s a franchise, The Melting Pot also has its own cookbook, salad dressings and signature chocolate-covered strawberries for sale. Best of all, it’s a great place for big groups – anniversaries, graduation parties, wedding and baby showers.
There’s lots of good Internet buzz on The Melting Pot. One Yelp.com reviewer, Brittany M. of Brooklyn gives the restaurant a rave: “My favorite restaurant ever. I love it. I tried just about everything on the menu! I highly suggest the Wisconsin Trio with a bouillon base…The chocolate (fondues), every single one I’ve had is great. The Flaming Turtle is my favorite, and then the Yin and Yang (dark and white chocolate) is the runner up. Just went here on New Year’s Eve and it was so much fun.”
Brittany M. is right. The Melting Pot offers its guests a yummy good time and the Manhattan Skyline view from its windows is the cherry on top.
The Melting Pot
100 Sinatra Drive
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri, Sat: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.