Going Out: The Melting Pot

Ryan’s first time at The Melting Pot in Atlantic City, NJ. He loved it!

Confession time!

The Melting Pot is my absolute obsession right now.  I love everything about it.  It was my choice for my birthday dinner, and my family has a reservation for tonight at 5:45 in Philadelphia.

I’ve never been to The Melting Pot in Philly before, but I’ve been to the one in Atlantic City many times and the one in Boston once or twice.  I think their food is absolutely delicious and the concept is so much fun and so perfect for a long, hearty meal with good friends or family.  I am so excited to go tonight, especially because my dad and brother have never been before, so I can’t wait to witness their first experience.

For those of you who have never been, the meal comes out in four courses.  The first is a cheese fondue, and you have a choice of about five or so varieties, all of which are delicious and very distinct.  I really like the Wisconsin Trio and the Traditional Swiss.  Along with the cheese comes your dipping selections, which include veggies, granny smith apples, and several varieties of bread.

The second course is the salad, which may seem boring among the other courses, but they certainly do not disappoint in this department.  My absolute favorite is the California Salad, which comes with candied pecans that are arguably one of my favorite parts of the meal.

Third is the moment everyone has been waiting for, the main course.  You can choose from individual entrees that come with one or two types of meat (or vegetarian selections), or you can opt for the “Four Course Classic,” in which case the third course comes with a variety of meats, including tuna, shrimp, chicken, and sirloin.  This course is my favorite because you get to cook your own food, plus their dipping sauces are AMAZING.  With the meats, they bring out a pot of hot broth, into which they pour mushrooms, potatoes, and broccoli.  You let the veggies cook for awhile as you skewer your meats, one at a time, and cook them in the broth.  When they are finished cooking (each one takes about 1-2 minutes), you put them on a separate plate and use their signature dipping sauces (the waiter tells you which sauce goes best with which type of meat) and enjoy!   It is so much fun, and since you are cooking the food yourself, it spreads the meal out and makes the enjoyment and excitement last even longer.

The final course is dessert, and they definitely make sure you finish with a bang.  I have tried almost all of their chocolate fondue varieties, and each is as good as the one before.  My favorite is probably the Chocolate S’mores, but not by much, since all of them are so delicious.  I mean, you really can’t go wrong if there’s chocolate involved.  They bring out a huge plate of dipping choices, including cake, marshmallows, graham crackers, strawberries, bananas, and brownies.  By the end of the meal, you are already so stuffed that it seems almost impossible to finish off the final course, but trust me, you will make a valiant attempt.

I really just love the atmosphere of The Melting Pot restaurants.  I love that you don’t feel like you are waiting forever for your food to come out, and I love that you get to enjoy the experience of being constantly involved in the cooking process.  The level of interaction is beyond compare, and the taste lives up to all expectations.

The Melting Pot is, of course, super expensive, but if you find specials or coupons it can cut the price nearly in half (trust me, I’m a broke college student and I always look for the deals!).  I love going during AC Restaurant Week, when you can get a 3-course lunch (Salad, Entree, and Dessert) for only $15 per person!  You can also go during any other time for dinner and forgo all courses besides the main one, and pay as little as $19 per person.  Another great way to get part of the experience without the full price is to go for just salads and dessert, which are reasonably priced and just as delicious as all four courses.

Even though it is a chain, I think they do a great job of making the experience very personal no matter which location you are at.  I highly recommend that you give it a try, no matter where you are located!  You can find a map of their locations here.

Happy Eating!

Going Out: Friendly’s

Today is my birthday, and we celebrated it by going to Friendly’s for lunch.

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My brother Ryan and I at Friendly’s for lunch

Friendly’s is far from fine cuisine, but here, it is a family favorite.  There is something about going to Friendly’s that just gets everyone excited and puts us all in a good mood.  We have celebrated everything there, from birthdays to little league championships to dance recitals to the last day of school, and it has always been a popular hangout for me and my friends after school dances and youth group meetings.

The menu is pretty big, and a lot of it is actually really good.  My absolute favorite is the Turkey Club Supermelt, but I also love their wraps, burgers, salads, and quesadillas.  In my opinion, their french fries are not all that great (super mushy), so I usually sub a cup of soup or applesauce instead.

Whatever the food may be, the dessert is really the best part of going to Friendly’s.  My family hardly ever gets dessert when we go out to eat, but it is an unspoken family law that we will get ice cream at Friendly’s.  They probably have over thirty different flavors of ice cream to choose from, with the option to order one of their predetermined sundaes or create your own concoction.  Nothing compares to a Friendly’s sundae.  Their milkshakes are also incredible, and not only do they fill your glass to the top, but they bring out the entire half-full metal mixing cup along with it.  My personal favorite is the Friend-z, which is comparable to a DQ Blizzard or Sonic Blast, but with more stuff and better tasting ice cream.

Whenever I go to Friendly’s I get to be a kid again, if only for an hour or so.  I love the atmosphere and the ice cream, and I love that it is chock full of memories from my childhood.  I hope to someday bring my children to Friendly’s on their birthdays and sing along to the Friendly’s Birthday Song: “If you’re good you’ll get your wishes/if you’re bad you’ll do our dishes.”

Thankfully, I’ve never had to do their dishes.

Eating Out: Husk

Victoria and I with her friends Devon and Katie outside of Husk in Charleston, SC.

Last week I was on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina (more on that here), and my friend Victoria, with whom I was staying, took us to this fabulous restaurant downtown called Husk.

The restaurant is a little bit pricey and VERY trendy, so Vickie made a lunch reservation about a month in advance.  The lunch prices were much more reasonable, around $12 a plate.  The restaurant is all about locally grown southern food, and when you walk in, they have a huge chalkboard with all of their ingredients listed next to the local supplier from which they were purchased.

The menu was small albeit slightly overwhelming, since there was a lot of unfamiliar territory in traditional southern food.  The bacon cornbread they ordered as an appetizer was not my thing (I’m not a cornbread person) although they seemed to like it a lot.  I had a hard time deciding between a few things on the lunch menu, but in the end I went with the most boring dish you can imagine – the cheeseburger.  Sometimes it’s better to be safe.

What I didn’t expect was that this cheeseburger would be far from safe.  Ordering the burger turned out to be the best decision I made that day, since it was probably the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had in my life.  It was a double cheeseburger, complete with sauteed onions, homemade pickles, melted cheddar cheese, and secret sauce (it felt almost like a honey mustard, but more savory and not quite as thick).  I wish I could effectively describe to you the incredible flavors this burger brought to the table, and I wish even more that I had taken a picture so that you could see the fresh cheddar cheese just oozing out of the homemade bun.

I also loved the staff at the restaurant, who were friendly and accommodating.   Vickie had booked her reservation through Open Table, and in the comments section had asked them to do something special for my birthday, which is coming up.  They brought out a pudding dessert in a miniature mason jar, complete with a candle and four spoons, at no extra cost.  It was absolutely precious and I was so thankful for the experience.

All in all, I highly recommend Husk if you are visiting Charleston anytime soon.  I also suggest that you make a reservation in advance, and stick with lunch if you are on any sort of budget.

You definitely will not be disappointed.