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Sweetly Melts Away Any Resistance

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Current location: 6100 Westheimer, Suite 146, Houston TX 77057

The Melting PotAsked where he wanted us to celebrate his 24th birthday over dinner, Kelly took us out last night to The Melting Pot out on Westheimer.

Thumbs up all around, from everyone at the table. Even from Susan, who took care of the tab.

Let’s get that pricey tab off the table here first. Yes, The Melting Pot is expensive. We went what would probably be mid-range – not the bare bones basic cellar, but not running up the bill with a bottle or two of wine either (although by all accounts, their wine selection would be worth praise) – and the bill for the 4 of us, after taking off $18 for a coupon Kelly had, but including gratuity and taxes, was $177. Which is probably why so many of the comments at sites like b4-u-eat either recommend it or criticize it as merely a special occasions restaurant. Also, why Kelly was joking when he suggested that this might become a frequent lunch spot for me by being just down the street from my office building – this place would eat my weekly lunch budget straight into next week in a single lunch!

But in our opinion, you do get what you pay for. For one thing, The Melting Pot got top marks from all of us for ambiance and atmosphere and all. My mind goes back to a rooftop restaurant in Manhattan that was at least as pricey if not more (not Windows on the World, where you got every single cent’s worth of the experience you paid for, and then some), yet shrugged at having boisterous customers who behaved like they were in a barroom brawl, disturbing most of the remaining customers in the entire restaurant. To me, dining out is a hell of a lot more than just sticking some piece of food in the mouth and swallowing. If a restaurant doesn’t care to create an entire pleasant experience out of dining, then they ought not expect to charge anything above barroom snack prices. And put The Melting Pot at the best end of the spectrum on that aspect. If the food itself here had been worth as little as half what we paid – and it was certainly more than that – then frankly I would have paid the rest of it for the pleasure of having the meal where we had it and how we had it.

For the three of us who were first-timers, the menu was ever so mildly daunting. But some of the best table waiting I’ve ever seen quickly got us over any timidity, and soon we were merrily sharing the fondue experience over a double of their 3-course entrée Signature Selection. First course: the Cheddar Cheese Fondue, over bread cubes, veggies (carrots, celery, and cauliflower), and apple wedges. Second course: excellent salads – the featured Athenian Salad for Kelly, Caesar Salad for Nat, House Salad for Susan, and Spinach Mushroom Salad (followed by the cucumbers from Susan’s salad) for me. Our main course: filet mignon, shrimp, teriyaki-marinated sirloin, boneless breast of chicken, and salmon, cooked by each of us at the table in their Court Bouillon, with tasty sauces (my personal favorite of course being a mild, but very well seasoned, curry); with additional veggies, including potatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli.

But although that certainly would have left any of us more than amply satisfied (particularly since the restaurant welcomed resupplying us with any of the food items for fonduing or cooking when we ran low), this was a birthday dinner, so we couldn’t just leave it at that. So to our dinner we then added their Yin & Yang Chocolate Fondue (picture coming as soon as I download my camera). Strawberries, bananas, two kinds of marshmallows, rice krispie treats, pound cake, brownie bites, and very delicious light-as-air cheese cake, all incredibly delicious in that hot pot of dark and white chocolate in the center of our table.

I don’t know of a single complaint or even mild so-so reaction that any in our party had. None whatsoever. Hearty applause from all. Sure, at that price, we won’t be back there tonight; but we will most definitely be back, and would readily recommend it. Let me put it this way: if The Melting Pot is to be characterized as a “special occasions restaurant,” then it’s the kind of restaurant that makes a diner want to make any evening a special occasion, just for the opportunity to go dine there.

P.S. – I noted that Kelly had a discount coupon? Actually, it was for a different Melting Pot location. Since each separate Melting Pot location is separately owned, the Houston one was not compelled to honor this coupon. But from the time Kelly questioned the restaurant about that issue during our call to make reservations, to the reservations person getting approval from the store manager, to the moment where our waiter remembered that we had a coupon before Kelly did, to paying the bill, The Melting Pot displayed the highest quality of service, very openly making sure we knew they appreciated our business and wanted us back. As exceptional as we found that, it was by no means any exception to the rule the entire establishment obviously holds to as ordinary practice – you simply won’t find better service at any comparable restaurant, period.

We will most definitely return, with or without discount coupon. And would heartily recommend it to the best of our friends, clients, and others.

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Written by macheide

14 January 2008 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Houstonian


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