I love to have new dining experiences -- but while being vegetarian creates some limitations, I've discovered that pregnancy really makes eating out challenging. Soft cheeses are a no-no nowadays and undercooked eggs will have to wait a few more days, until the baby is born. So will wine and all other wonderful, delicious alcoholic beverages.
I've been obsessed with fondue since I first found out I was expecting. Luckily, many cheeses are still okay, and chocolate is baby-safe. So a stop at The Melting Pot, 2702 West Main Street in Littleton, seemed the perfect spot for a last-date night with my husband before the baby arrives next week (or sooner).
The place was booked on Saturday, so we settled on a Sunday night, when we were seated in a cozy booth on the upper floor, with a view of the mountains. We drew the curtains around our table, which gave us privacy and also helped turn our little booth into a steam room before we were done, since bubbling cauldrons of cheese and broth sure let off a lot of heat.
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Although the menu looked a bit daunting, not being meat eaters limited our option. Normally the order of courses is cheese fondue, salad, oil or broth fondue to cook your meats or veggies, then chocolate fondue for dessert. We opted to start with salad. I tried the featured salad, a caprese with fresh mozzarella, basil, field greens and tomato with a balsamic vinaigrette; the tomato wasn't as ripe as I would have liked, and the $8 price tag seemed high. Most Melting Pot salads are $6, including the house salad, which my husband tried. The greens, tomatoes and cucumbers were fresh and the Emmenthaler cheese and egg on top were nice additions, but the house dressing was overly sweet for our taste.
But we weren't really there for salad -- we wanted fondue. We opted for the Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue made with Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon and Kirshwasser. I have fond memories of an amazing pot of fondue I once had in the Swiss Alps; this was good, but the sharpness of the cheese was overpowered by the alcohol. Although the Granny Smith apple slices worked well with the cheese, our bread chunks were a bit stale and the veggies were flavorless.
The big surprise of the night was our vegetarian entrée. The server brought a large plate of tofu, artichoke hearts, Portobello mushrooms, asparagus and ravioli, along with a very hot pot of court bouillon. We had fun poking around in the broth, but we had a few cooking mishaps.The meal came with a number of sauces; the green goddess -- a mix of sour cream, cream cheese and chives -- and a butter dipping sauce were far superior to the Asian-style teriyaki, curry and sweet and sour sauces.
Our dinner was filling and definitely a unique experience, but I'd try different salads and cheese fondues next time. In fact, I might skip those courses and just go for dessert. We were too full to try the chocolate fondue, but still looked longingly at the huge pots of chocolate and enormous trays of fresh fruit, cheesecake, brownies and marshmallows that passed by.