The Melting Pot 

... then the other.

It's not that I don't like fondue. I'm willing to give the 'due its due. It's just that every time I've had the dish locally, in all incarnations, the staffs were surly, the dipping items second-rate and the bills richer than the Gruyere. So, needless to say, I needed to be won over by the Melting Pot, and I definitely wasn't-at first.

When my erstwhile vegetarian sidekick and I were banished to the bar until our table opened up, we didn't mind the wait. What we minded was our bartender, who copped a snotty attitude when we ventured to request some very minor customizations to our cocktails. For about eight bucks a snort, we couldn't help but feel entitled.

Our server was equally a let down. Not only did she ignore us for nearly half an hour (but walked by many times), she also mocked Veggie for her culinary affliction-something I feel to be my exclusive privilege. Then, she even made repeated not-so-veiled comments implying my steady gal and I were some kind of weekend bed-buddies from work. Maybe she got that impression since we were the only people in the restaurant who felt compelled to dress even mildly nice for our immensely expensive dinner.

As for the food, well, after she forgot our salads (later claiming that the restaurant was-no kidding-trying a new salad-after-entree system), she antagonized Veggie for not wanting my raw steak cooked in the same pot as her tofu-and-broccoli spread. Both dishes were good quality, but the accompanying sauces were oversweet, McNugget-esque sludges that hardly complemented filet mignon. A slightly more satisfying dessert (marshmallows and fruit dipped in dark chocolate and Dramboui) later, we still didn't feel as if we had our bill's worth-even after we stole all the mints from the hostess's bowl.

In the interest of not being haters, we felt compelled to return three days later, and I'm glad to report that our experience was exponentially better. Our server, Jennifer, was both engaging and informative while preparing our Traditional Cheese Fondue. The bartender was similarly more knowledgable and courteous than his predecessor. We didn't venture near the ent&ees again, but the tangy, delicious Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss concoction brewed was a quick, filling bite. While we won't be dumping our tax returns into this national chain again any time soon, I can safely say that for a decadent single course of dairy, it hits the spot.

-Nicholas Collias's version of formal consists entirely of polyester.

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