Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Pot of Gold

We celebrated my wife's 40th birthday Saturday night with a family dinner at the Center City Philadelphia outpost of The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant. If you're not familiar with fondue cooking, diners use forks to dip food into warm, semi-liquid sauces that are heated in small pots. I spoke with Kimberly, the general manager, in advance of our visit to tell her that our older son was on a gluten-free diet. Kimberly, who was familiar with the diet, told me that we were able to bring any gluten-free foods that would make for good dipping.

We were able to get a table with two burners, which allowed us to prepare gluten-free foods on a dedicated cooktop. For the four of us, we ordered two Entrees for Two, which includes a cheese fondue course, salad, and an dinner entree. We didn't bring our own gluten-free bread, but my son was able to use the tortilla chips, carrots, celery and apples served by the restaurant to dip in the Cheddar Cheese fondue. The kitchen left out the lager beer from that fondue, which contained cheddar and Swiss cheeses, garlic and seasonings. Following that course, we enjoyed salads with a gluten-free house dressing.

Filet mignon, shrimp and boneless chicken breast were part of the Signature Selection entrees we ordered for dinner; we left out the fish fillet as a matter of personal preference and the teriyaki-marinated chicken because the marinade was not safe. Instead, we doubled up on the beef and chicken. For our entree fondues, we chose a vegetable broth bouillon as the gluten-free option and the coq au vin. Potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli florets accompany the entree fondues.

We ordered two small dessert fondues a la carte, choosing the pure milk chocolate and the Yin & Yang, which was half dark chocolate and half white chocolate. We brought gluten-free pretzel sticks, pound cake and brownies for our son to go with strawberries and bananas that were on the menu. The restaurant served its own cheesecake, pound cake squares, brownies and marshmallows on a separate plate.

Kimberly happened to be working the night we went, and she double-checked all of the food before it arrived tableside to make sure there were no cross-contamination issues or mix-ups. She told us that all managers are trained to do this when a diner requests gluten-free options. Whether making a reservation online or by phone, be sure to note that one or more diners will be eating gluten free.

We found The Melting Pot to be a great place to celebrate a special occasion and were extremely pleased that the staff and management took care to accommodate a gluten-free diet. The kids especially enjoyed the novelty of dipping food into the different fondues. Plan to spend about two hours eating a four-course meal there.

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon
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