This is the fourth review in the Life desk’s 2024 Charlottesville Restaurant Week series. Food writers also dined at Tonic, Birch and Bloom and Belle.
Last Saturday night, I had the delight of dining at The Melting Pot in downtown Charlottesville. My boyfriend, our friend and I took advantage of the $35 Charlottesville Restaurant Week dinner promotion and had an entertaining and flavorful dining experience. This cozy fondue restaurant is worth a visit with a large group of loved ones for a special night out.
The Melting Pot specializes in fondue, a Swiss hotpot dish served in a communal pot. At the restaurant, diners cook their own food in a fondue pot at the center of the table. The pots throughout the dining room fill the air with steam, which we noticed immediately — we were hit with a wave of humidity upon arrival. It was a funny way to start the night and a precursor for what was to come.
Our hostess welcomed us and seated our party. Other couples, friend groups and families dined around us — company that contributed to the casual and upbeat atmosphere. When our waitress arrived, she explained the Restaurant Week Menu and suggested what to order for our three course meal. At The Melting Pot, the table has to order the same cheese, cooking style and dessert fondues since everyone shares the same pot. All of the options looked tasty, but we were able to come to a consensus for each course.
We started with the cheese fondue. We ordered the “classic alpine” — a blend of gruyere cheese and other seasonings and ingredients. Artisan bread, fruits and vegetables accompanied the fondue for dipping. We dove right in and were not disappointed. The cheese was especially nutty and melted perfectly in the pot. My favorite pairing were the cubes of bread dipped in cheese — it made the bread soft and chewy.
After the cheese course, I ordered a California salad off of their regular menu. The salad came with mixed greens, candied pecans and tomatoes and was drizzled in a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. The dressing pulled the whole salad together. My favorite part was definitely the texture, though. Crunchy pecans balanced the mixed greens and gave the salad an overall delicious, sweet flavor.
For the entrée, we had to choose what style broth we wanted our food to be cooked in. We chose the “lover’s delight” cooked in a mojo style broth, as it consisted of garlic, citrus juice and cilantro — all incredibly flavorful ingredients. The “lover’s delight” came with raw brown sugar bourbon steak, herb-crusted chicken, shrimp and salmon.
The entrée pot also came with some potatoes and vegetables cooking inside. We decided to leave them in longer so that they would absorb more flavor from the broth. The result was delectable — I couldn’t get enough. The shrimp was juicy and bursting with citrus and garlic flavor. The beef was also very well-seasoned. I loved the chicken as well, which paired nicely with the curry sauce. It was fun trying out all the options over conversation with my dates.
Soon enough, we cleared our plates and the pot of all the vegetables inside. Personally, I found it to be perfectly portioned. I felt very satisfied with how much I had eaten once I finished my plate. I liked how I was able to mix and match my proteins with different sauces and experiment with how long I would cook them inside the pot. Once our waitress cleared off our table, she promptly returned with our dessert — pure dark chocolate fondue.
The chocolate fondue came along with a variety of fruits and mini pastries for dipping. The strawberries and bananas were my personal favorites — the dark chocolate melted just right on each fruit. The sweet strawberry paired perfectly with the deep, dark chocolate sauce in a sweet symphony of flavor. We ended our night on an especially sweet note and polished off our dessert in no time.
The Melting Pot has earned a spot in my list of Charlottesville restaurants to return to. The staff was outstanding in their service to make our dinner enjoyable and delicious. Given the higher price tag of their regular menu, I’d recommend the restaurant’s unique dining experience for a special occasion with friends and family.