The Melting Pot is a one-of-a-kind restaurant giving guests the opportunity to dip to their hearts’ content – in fondue, that is. Boasting an unbelievably decadent menu of cheese, broth, and chocolate-based fondue options, diners are armed with everything they need to satisfy that certain craving for something sweet or savory. Home in the Gaslamp Quarter’s very first skyscraper, The Melting Pot’s chic décor hearkens back to a golden era of opulence, while maintaining a contemporary air of casual elegance. Join family and friends around the Melting Pot table and partake in the joyous style of dining that is fondue.Read More ...
The most enjoyable and memorable dining experiences tend to be those shared with family and friends around one table, feasting on the same scrumptious fare. And as delightful as it can be to dine out on the town, the communal sense of sharing in the meal is often lost to the ordering of separate dishes. The Melting Pot provides an ingenious solution to the issue of ‘isolated dining enjoyment’ by inviting all to dip and dip alike.
The Melting Pot occupies prime real estate at the core of the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, and is one of three locations dispersed throughout the county. The restaurant is also one of the latest tenants of San Diego’s very first skyscraper: Built in 1913, the 11-story building originally served as the San Diego Trust and Savings Bank. Now the Gaslamp Plaza Suites Hotel, this historic landmark continues to exude a unique air of opulence with its original marble, brass, mosaic tile, and Australian gumwood fixtures intact.
The Melting Pot’s outer façade resembles that of a chic hotel, with its brass-inset double doors shaded by a long covered awning presenting the Melting Pot moniker. Inside, the space boasts subtle art deco design elements that hint at glamour without insinuating kitsch. Polished wood floors lead guests to a large dining room that follows a partial U-shaped floor plan. A grand staircase sits in the center of the room and leads to the upper level, where another dining area is accompanied by a large bar. Downstairs, impressive structural pillars punctuate the area and lead up to the stunning coffered ceiling, while plush booths line the outer, window-lined wall facing the street. Each marble-topped table is dressed with black cloth napkins that conceal the usual eating utensils along with the slightly unusual, pronged fondue dipping forks. Each setting is distinguished by the colored handle of its fondue fork – as the dipping fest commences, guests can immediately tell their items from the rest in the pot. Sitting down at our table in the main dining room, my guests and I are immediately struck by the glass-top cook surface at the center of the table. While introducing himself as our server for the evening and taking our drink orders, Stefan turns the concealed switch to preheat the cook top and petite stainless steel fondue pot.
To complement the decadent food menu, The Melting Pot offers a number of signature cocktails and specialty drinks. Their wine list is similarly impressive, with an extensive selection of New and Old World varietals. Knowing that we will be enjoying a rich array of dishes, I order the 2008 Schmitt Söhne Riesling. This crisp, subtly fruity, and delicately dry wine acts as a refreshing palate-cleanser with each bold flavored course that we savor, and stands out as an invigorating summer drink on its own.
To begin the meal on an absolutely magnificent note, Stefan presents us with the Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue. Beyond being wholly satisfying in its own right, the appeal of this dish is amplified by the fact that it is composed for us at the table by Stefan. He first drops a small helping of diced spinach and artichoke hearts into the now steaming pot, along with chopped garlic. Next, he adds a generous helping of both fontina and Butterkäse cheese to the mix, and gently combines the sauce with a fork. Once a consistent and molten texture is achieved, Stefan tops the dip off with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a dash of Tabasco sauce.
A number of bite-size food items accompany the fondue on a rectangular white serving plate: whole wheat bread cubes, tortilla chips, diced carrots, broccoli and cauliflower heads, and Granny Smith apple slices. The cheese dip itself is incredibly aromatic and smells just as it tastes; the sweet undertones of the spinach and fontina cheese provide a nice platform for the more prominent notes to shine. The slightly salty element of the Parmesan and Butterkäse cheeses contrast with the understated earthiness of the artichoke hearts, and the garlic punctuates the sauce with a vibrant scent. Much like a thick cream of spinach soup, the fondue makes for a natural bedfellow with the vegetables and whole wheat bread bites. The crisp texture of the tortilla chips provides an attractive counterpoint to the creamy essence of the cheese, and they quickly become the favorite of my guest. I am drawn to the sweet, tart, and fragrant apple slices – when paired with the intensely savory cheese, the crunch and sweetness of the fruit creates a wonderfully full-bodied bite that engages the senses.
Besides the number of luscious fondue options on the menu, The Melting Pot also serves up fresh and flavorful salads. Stefan recommends that the three of us in my party each sample a different salad, giving us the opportunity to pass them around and share. The first to the table is The Melting Pot House Salad – a mix of crisp romaine and iceberg lettuce tossed with diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese crumbles, hard-boiled egg slices, and bread croutons. The restaurant’s signature vinaigrette dressing is sprinkled over top. The cool crunch of the lettuce is mirrored by the crispness of the croutons, and contrasts brilliantly with the smooth and yielding nature of the egg slices and tomato.
The Spinach Mushroom Salad is set before me and I’m instantly drawn to the play of contrasting colors on the plate. The undiluted green of the spinach is offset by painterly strokes of the warm burgundy shallot vinaigrette that glistens with an enticing pink hue. Deep red tones dot the dish with the sprinkling of apple wood smoked bacon and Roma tomatoes throughout; and thick slices of baby Portobello mushrooms add dashes of earth tones to the composition. The flavor that this work achieves is equally inspired – the robust quality of the leaves is balanced by the aromatic dressing, which is heightened by the saltiness of the bacon.
True to its name, the California Salad beams of all the freshness this state has to offer. Mixed baby spring, romaine, and iceberg leafs mingle with coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes and walnuts; and a plentiful helping of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese fills in the gaps with a faintly pungent and creamy richness. Tying all of these components together is a drizzling of raspberry black walnut vinaigrette. The toothsome walnuts have a meaty characteristic that is elevated by the energizing presence of the tomatoes and greens, while the intensely sweet and tart base of the dressing awakens every taste receptor in the mouth.
Once our salad plates are removed, Stefan begins heating the entrée bouillon-base fondue. Guests not only may choose what dinner selection of meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables they prefer to dip, but they also pick the flavor of broth used to prepare the food. To highlight the seasonal four-course dinner-for-two “Big Night Out” menu, which is currently Pacific Island-themed, we will be cooking our meal with the ‘Mojo Style’ broth – this is a Caribbean-inspired soup seasoned with chopped cilantro and garlic, with a squeeze of fresh orange and lime juice. The scent of the bubbling broth wafting up from the pot is warming like the familiar aroma of homemade chicken soup, and we are excited to taste it.
As a grand gesture to spoil us completely, Stefan offers my guests and me not one, but two of their stunning entrée meat dishes: the Fondue Fusion and the French Quarter. The two plates are also accompanied by a bowl of sliced russet potatoes, mushroom caps, and broccoli and cauliflower heads. Per Stefan’s instructions, we cook our meats and poultry in the steaming broth for two minutes, while the seafood and vegetables only require one-and-a-half minutes. Feeling out the proverbial waters of fondue cooking, I first dip a mushroom into the soup and wait in anticipation for it to be suitably tender. The plump mushroom absorbs the savory juice and is the ideal medium by which to savor the broth in its unadulterated state.
The French Quarter is a carnivore’s delight and serves up a bounty of fine fare to fondue: plump cubes of filet mignon, chicken breast, and whole shrimp are seasoned with Cajun spices, and are served along with thick slices of Andouille sausage. The fragrant spice rub on the meats stands out masterfully against the zest of the soup; and instead of competing for attention with one another, the two bold flavored components harmonize and strike a satisfying balance. The filet mignon bites cook to a medium-rare pink that is just to my preference, and boast the intensely savory essence of quality meat. The chicken’s mellow presence is a nice canvas for the Cajon seasonings to shine; and the shrimp seem perfectly at home with the Southern-inspired flavor notes of the spices. Peppery and sweet aromas are awakened within the sausage as it is heated through by the Mojo broth, and its smooth yet firm meat presents another dimension of piquant taste.
The Fondue Fusion specialty plate is a component of the Big Night Out menu, and showcases the best Land and Sea have to offer. A large white serving plate holds mouthful cuts of raw sesame-crusted teriyaki sirloin, citrus-infused pork tenderloin, sushi-grade Ahi tuna, garlic chili chicken breast, whole kiwi lime shrimp, and whole spring vegetable dumplings. Gracing our presence at the end of the plate is also a lush and meaty whole lobster tail.
The aroma of the Mojo broth translates into an even more effervescent flavor that is subtly salty, meaty, and bursting with the aromatic essence of the cilantro and garlic. The orange and lime juice balance the stock and add lovely citrus notes that bring out key elements in every item we dip in it. The teriyaki sirloin is tender and retains its own natural juices as it cooks. I keep the tuna in the soup not a second longer than I must, as I want to maintain its pink center – the broth exposes the fish’s inherently sweet flavor, and the silky smooth texture of it is juxtaposed brilliantly against its surprising substance. We cook our pork and chicken with a tad more abandon, knowing that the broth is a forgiving vehicle and will infuse more of its intoxicating flavor the longer we keep our food submerged. I am perhaps most delightfully surprised by the kiwi lime shrimp and vegetable dumplings – the shrimp come out of the pot plump, tender, and instilled with an incredibly fresh and distinct fruit flavor. The obvious tartness of the kiwi is accompanied by much quieter whispers of coconut and mango. The delicate dumplings are smooth and slightly chewy in texture, and absorb the richness of the broth like a sponge. Adhering to an unspoken diner’s code of conduct, we save the purely decadent lobster tail for the very end. In only a mere moment, the dark shell turns a radiant pink color and the fleshy meat retains its white luminosity. Each bite is an exercise in indulgence; the meat’s full-bodied sweetness and supple texture fills the mouth and quiets the mind like nothing else can. Or does it?
I am not ashamed to admit that from the moment we sat down at our table, my guests and I were already contemplating the exquisiteness that would be our fondue dessert. And now, finally, here it is: the Flaming Turtle. Describing this fan-favorite brings a smile to Stefan’s face, and in turn lights up ours as well. Milk chocolate is melted in the pot, and topped with fire -- a ceramic gravy boat filled with sumptuous caramel is set alight and poured into the chocolate emulsion, leaving a blue-tinted flame trailing as it goes. As if this molten concoction isn’t tantalizing enough, Stefan tops it off with a handful of chopped pecans.
In true Melting Pot fashion, a ridiculously extravagant spread of dip-able treats is offered up on a white serving plate and we honor them in a moment of slack-jawed silence. Fresh halved strawberries, sliced bananas, cheesecake slivers, Rice Krispies Treats® bites, chocolate and Graham Cracker-dusted marshmallows, pound cake squares, brownie cubes, and a chocolate-covered cherry thrown in for good measure bask in their own sugary glory.
The cold juicy freshness of the fruits melds with the warm thickness of the chocolate and consumes the mouth in a luxurious coating. We appreciate the dipped brownies and Rice Krispies as tasty steps in the direction of a sugar overdose, and linger over the velvety richness of the creamy cheesecake topped by a drizzling of the chocolate. Submerging the skewered marshmallows into the sauce reminds me of a happy childhood moment, and biting into the elastic mass convinces me that this is far superior to even the best S’mores experience. The fondue extravaganza is indeed finished off with the cherry, and we sit back a moment dazed by the meal we’ve just enjoyed.
There’s not much more to be desired when you have the opportunity to gather loved ones around one table for a truly unique and joyous meal, in a particularly lovely restaurant setting with unparalleled service and charm. The Melting Pot accomplished this with an air of casual grace to remind us all that it’s perfectly acceptable to have fun with our food… In fact, we should do it more often!
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This was my husband and I's first time at this restaurant. I've made reservations online before and been disappointed when the reservation wasn't confirmed. Not only did they confirm but they went out of their way to acknowledge that we were there to celebrate our anniversary. The "lovers lane" seating was better than I expected. My husband is a tough customer to please and he was blown away by the service and the ambiance. We will definitely return.
This is wonderful place in front of Horton Plaza. The food was excellent with reasonable price. The service was even better. Thanks.
The over all experience was lots of fun. I have recommended the melting pot to all my friends. Im looking forward to the next time.
This restaurant was great. I recommend getting their dessert, it was the best. You can ask for more food to finish whatever is in the pot. Although this place is expensive, I would come back again for special occasions.
What more can you ask for than great food, great staff and great FOOD. (yes, it was that good) I had never had a fondue dinner before, and for my first, it made a great impression. Everything we ordered was simply amazing, from appetizer to dessert. The atmosphere was also great at The Melting Pot, with a little sophistication and lots of intimacy. They had tables big enough for larger groups, but it was just me and my husband that night. The only drawback was that there was only one bathroom stall for the entire restaurant. You have to walk up a flight (or two if you're on the bottom floor) of stairs then wait in line to use it. Overall, it was a great place and I definitely plan on returning soon. (They have lots of great-sounding events all the time, just check out their website).
We went for our Wedding Anniversary. I loved that we had our own private booth. The waiter gave us a Happy Anniversary card signed by the staff. The drinks we got were great. The food was very tasty. Only complaints would be that after our meal had been taken we asked for the dessert menu. We decided instantly what we wanted to order but our waiter took about 10 minutes to come back to ask us what we wanted. Also, I understand paying for the experience and ambiance but it is a little expensive when you have to cook your own food.
I did not realize how long it would take for a three course dining experience, but every second was worth it! The food was outstanding & it was a very fun experience. -Kayla
Try the banana caramel desert, you will be amazed. -GIO
I took my fiance here for her birthday and was amazed at the great service, delicious food, and personable atmosphere. The staff would wish her a happy birthday whenever they walked by the table. Plus, they had all signed a 'happy birthday' card for her and took our picture as a keepsake. Way to go above and beyond. The fondue was excellent and they definitely save the best for last. Just wait til you get to dessert.
We chose The Melting Pot as a post-theatre/anniversary dinner, and couldn't have been more pleased with our experience. The staff were all very warm and friendly in every exchange, greeting us with "Happy Anniversary", taking care of every need at table, and even presenting us with a card signed by the staff! The food was very high quality, and very well prepared. We loved the atmosphere of the vintage building, too. We whole-heartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a memorable evening for a special celebration or date night!
will visit again
I enjoyed the different dining experience. Good food and great service
This was our first time eating at the melting pot. Everything was excelllent from the time we walked through the door. The hostess was friendly, got our table right away because we made a reservation on sandiegorestaurants.com. Our server Josh was awesome!!!! He knew the menu well and made our whole experience fun. Would definitely recommend this restaurant to friends and family and we will be coming back!
Our entire experience was executed perfectly. The food/service/ambiance was excellent. We will definitely be going back!
Fantastic location, great atmosphere, friendly staff. The food and wine is awesome. For a great time with friends, ladies night out, a date, I would highly recommend The Melting Pot to everyone.
Although it's expensive, it is a fun experience and the food is to die for!! I couldn't afford to go all the time; but I would go again for special occasions!!
This is the place to celebrate any and all occasions! Havin this experience with friends is fun and you come up with creative additions to the chocolate. Lots of laughs and great food!
I loved this restaurant. The service and food was great. Staff very friendly, excellent customer service.
Greeted warmly, led to "Lovers Lane" where we had a wonderful anniversary celebration. Wonderful food and service. Even received an anniversary card signed by the staff. It was great food (chocolate fondue to die for). I don't know how my husband can possibly top this next year except by bringing me back to The Melting Pot Again!!!!
I took friends who had not had fondue before and had an enjoyable experience.
I took my boyfriend here to celebrate his birthday and we were blown away by the service, the food(dessert most especially), and the ambiance. Everyone in the restaurant from the maitre d to our server greeted my boyfriend a happy birthday. There was even a card that was signed by the staff. I think that was very sweet and personal. Our server was great! He knew the menu very well and since it was our first time there, he explained how the menu worked. The food was excellent! I loved the fondue setting. it's an adult's way of playing with their food! The dessert was the highlight of the night. We couldn't have gone wrong picking the 'yin and yang'. We will definitely be back again and next time we're bringing more people with us. That was definitely a treat!
We went for our wedding anniversary, and it was very romantic and fun. The employees are very customer service oriented, and the first course (cheese) and dessert were delicious. The ambiance is lovely; we sat in a little private alcove. It was a little warm in the area we were seated in, likely because of the alcove being partially partitioned off and cooking at the table. We had one of the best "date nights" ever, and we would highly recommend this restaurant, especially to couples.
We went for our first anniversary and sat in a private booth. The staff was super friendly and even gave us a card wishing us the best on our anniversary. The service was great- no long waits, and always somebody there when we needed something. The cheese fondue, house salad, and chocolate fondue were all amazing- top notch. The meat course was so-so for me taste-wise [we had steak, chicken and shrimp w/ the coq au vin cooking option], but certainly a fun time cooking everything.
Great place to go for an interactive date to get to know someone. You learn a lot about the person you're with just figuring out how you want to cook everything.
The location and wait staff were excellent; the Melting Pot was an ideal place to celebrate our sons 24th birthday (on St. Patricks Day, no less.) The menu choices were varied and unique-everyone had a very good time and left quite satisfied.
The only negative was they added a gratuity to my bill when we were a party of 5. I accept this for 6 or more, but it seemed unneccesary. Also, the waitress didn't mention that it was already added and there is a slot to add "additional gratuity". I feel that people who are drinking may overlook this and double tip. I dont feel she tried to trick us in any way ( she was lovely), but I would have liked to have been informed. Also, alcocol should not be counted as a portion to be factored into the tip. What if I order a $200 bottle of wine? Is that worth an extra $40 to my server...I think not.I say this coming from a fine dining service background, so it usually hurts the waitstaff when they add a 15-20% grat, as I usually tip more for a great experience. Otherwise a beautiful night.
fun restaurant, however, seem like a place that i can only handle once every couple years.
Very loud and busy. The beef was too spicy and our waiter apparently had too many tables to take care of since we had to keep asking for our drinks to be refilled.