Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gluten Free at the Melting Pot

The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant with franchise locations throughout the United States. Since it is a franchise, the gluten free choices are different at each location. The Dallas location (actually, it's in Addison on Belt Line Rd) is working with the GIG to review their menu and has already made some great improvements since the last time I was there.

The Melting Pot is one of my kids' favorite restaurants. Each table has a burner in the middle for the fondue pot. My favorite part of the experience is the cheese fondue, but the kids don't care for it. Since we were there to celebrate Colin's straight A's (Yea! Go Colin!!!) I acquiesced, and we skipped that part. However, for your reference, they substitute either broth, wine, or gluten-free beer for fondues that have beer in them, so all of them can be made GF. Obviously, you can't allow your dining partners to dip bread (cross-contamination!)so everyone will have to be content with apples and veggies to dip. On occasion, I have slipped GF breadsticks (Shar brand) or GF pretzels into my purse to dip in the cheese fondue.

The part of the meal the kids love is cooking their meat. A pot of broth or oil is placed on your burner and each person can order the type of meat they wish to cook. Again, you are going to need to make sure that no one in your group orders something with gluten (the teriyaki, for example) as you will all be cooking your meal in the same pot. Caroline and I split an order of chicken, Mark had the Surf and Turf (steak, chicken, and shrimp), and Colin had the salmon.

Colin loves salmon, but lately he's become a bit of a salmon snob. I bought Coho salmon at Central Market while my brother-in-law Steve was here, as it is Steve's favorite. I never expected Colin's reaction. He declared it to be the best salmon he ever tasted and started begging every night to have Coho.

So there we are, at the Melting Pot, and Colin wants to know if the salmon is Coho. The waitress has no idea (I'm pretty sure she didn't know there were different types of salmon) so we send for the chef (who has already been out to go over the menu with me). Sure enough, he says it's Coho! Colin is overjoyed. (Personally, I prefer Sockeye.)

We chose Court Bouillon for our broth. The meal comes with a little plate of vegetables, which you dump in the broth, then you skewer your pieces of meat (you use two skewers at a time) and let them sit in the broth for about 2 minutes. On the table, they have dipping sauces for your meat as well as a shaker of Wine and Herb seasoning. One thing here -- three of the sauces are put into a single serving dish with three little compartment. One of these sauces was the off-limits teriyaki. I felt the proximity of the other two sauces to the gluten-containing sauce was a little too close for comfort. I stuck with the Green Goddess dressing (served in it's own separate little cup) and the herb seasoning. Both were wonderful.

We were already full by the time we finished our meat, but you can't go to the Melting Pot and not get dessert. Chocolate fondue! They have milk, dark, and white chocolate and you can choose to mix it with a liqueur, peanut butter, marshmallow, or caramel. Mark and I recently had the caramel, and it was tasty, but marshmallow is, hands down, our favorite. They bring the pot of chocolate out, with marshmallow cream in the middle, then light the top of the fondue (toasty!) and when the flames die down, they stir in the marshmallow.

To dip, we had marshmallows (be sure to ask for them plain -- they normally roll them in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs), bananas, and strawberries. The waitress was under the mistaken impression that the Rice Krispy treats were also GF, but a quick conversation with the chef proved they were not. The kids ate those plain, without dipping them in the chocolate, so they would not "contaminate" me.

Dinner at the Melting Pot is very expensive, but it is a fun experience for the kids and a great place to go for a special occasion. The kids got balloons, they are chocolate, and they cooked their own tiny bite sized pieces of food, just right for small, slow eaters. They had a ball.


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