My husband and I dined at The Melting Pot of Dayton, Ohio to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. He snagged a Groupon, and thought he was going to be sneaky and surprise me, but Groupon sends me email receipts, so it didn’t end up being a surprise. We took a brief overnight trip to Ohio, and The Melting Pot was our last stop. I will also be posting about our adventures at the Chateau La Roche (Loveland Castle), our dining experience at Mio’s Pizzeria, and our stay at the Mariemont Inn soon.
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This was not our first experience at The Melting Pot of Dayton. We’ve visited twice before this. One of those times included our four kids plus a friend of Mrs. Merica. We’ve used a Groupon every time we’ve dined at The Melting Pot. If you are not familiar with Groupon, you need to check it out right now. Feel free to join using my Groupon referral link. It’s free to join, and there are Groupons available for all kinds of products and services. For our family, Groupon has given us a chance to try a variety of fun activities that would never be affordable if we were paying full price. We’ve used Groupons for the trampolines at Skyzone, several different restaurants, and of course The Melting Pot. You will all eventually figure out that I NEVER pay full price for anything. It almost causes me physical pain to think about paying full price for something. When I see one of my kids or my parents using their money to pay full price for an item that I know I could have acquired at a better price, it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. I would not even consider dining at The Melting Pot if paying the full menu prices even though I love the place. I was so excited the first time I came across this Groupon a few years ago because I had always wanted to try it.
The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant. Each table has one or more electric burners built into the center of the table to heat your fondue. This is not a fast food dining joint, and you should not choose The Melting Pot if you are dining under time constraints. The Groupon which cost $49 for the Dinner for Two option (there’s also a Dinner for Four option for $98) entitled us each to a salad, cheese fondue for two, and a “create your own” entrée. The menu price of the entrée alone is anywhere from $20-$30. The salads are $7 each if purchased individually, and the price for cheese fondue is $8.95 per person. Depending on what you would have ordered, the Groupon could save as much as half the price. The “create your own” entrée part of the Groupon means you get to select three options from the available entrees instead of being stuck with just one. I prefer getting to sample a variety of dipping options over having to choose just steak or just shrimp or just chicken. The Melting Pot menu choices are available on their website.
We chose the Wisconsin Cheddar as our cheese fondue for two. Even though it’s for two, you must agree upon the same cheese because there’s only one fondue pot per couple. The one time we took the kids, we had a bigger, long table with two burners and two pots. I don’t think we’ve ever tried any of the other cheeses. The Wisconsin Cheddar is very good. They bring the ingredients to the table. They start by pouring in some kind of beer (alcohol cooks out making it perfectly safe for children), then garlic and spices, and then the shredded cheese. The server stirs it as it quickly melts in to a yummy, gooey, cheesy dip. The cheese is served with bread cubes (white, wheat, and pretzel), vegetables (cauliflower, tomatoes, and carrots), and apple cubes. They will bring you more of the dippers if you run out, but we always use up all our cheese before we finish off the dippers.
The salads come after the cheese fondue. I selected the house salad with peppercorn ranch this time. RiflemanDad had the house salad with sweet & tangy which he said tastes just like honey mustard. I tried the California with the raspberry vinaigrette on a prior visit, and it was good as well. There’s nothing particularly special or exciting about the salads. I would not come to The Melting Pot just for the salad. If they had not been included in the Groupon, we would not have ordered them at $6.95 a piece. There’s nothing wrong with them, but if you are wanting a basic salad, there are lots of places to get that.
You must choose a cooking style base for your entrée. This is the liquid in the pot that is used to boil the entrees as you dip them. We went with the Seasoned Court Bouillon this time. With our prior visits, the Mojo base which has some Caribbean flavors was also a complimentary option, and we chose that. This time the Court Bouillon was the only option that did not involve a $6.95 upcharge. The flavoring of the boiling liquid doesn’t seem to make much difference, so we did not consider it worth paying more to get something different. Most of your flavor comes from the dips they bring to the table. With the “create your own” entree, each person can select three different options from the list of entrees. I picked the teriyaki sirloin, Pacific white shrimp, and featured pasta (a three cheese ravioli). RiflemanDad went with the Pacific white shrimp, the wild mushroom sacchetti (cheese and mushroom-filled pasta), and smoky andouille sausage. He was not impressed with the sausage. It was too much like packaged smoked sausage. He thought it would be more like a brat. We’ve also tried the chicken in the past, and that was very bland. The kids tried the duck when they were with us, and that was actually pretty good but not nearly as good as the steak, shrimp, or pastas. The server brings your boiling cooking base to the table already prepared and extremely hot. It’s carried out in a nifty contraption that seals the top of the pot to ensure boiling liquid isn’t spilled on the way to the table. Once the pot is placed on the table, a crank is turned to release the lid from the pot. The server then places fresh broccoli, small potatoes, and mushrooms in the liquid.
The entrees come to your table raw. You cook them right at the table which is fun. Each individual is given three skewers all with handles of the same color to keep you from mixing up your food with someone else’s color. The server gives you all the instructions about not contaminating any of the cooked food by letting it touch the raw food. He or she also gives you the cooking times for each selection. Steak requires three minutes in the pot, but most of the other items are a minute and a half. The pastas are generally just placed in the pot without stabbing with the skewer because that would spill the fillings. You can used the big slotted spoon they bring to remove the mushrooms, potatoes, and broccoli from the pot for scooping the pasta.
One of the nicest features of the entrees at The Melting Pot is the array of dips that are brought to the table. The platter of dips includes: Green Goddess (cream cheese and herbs), wasabi cocktail sauce (nice and hot, clears the sinuses), Gorgonzola cheese, yogurt curry, teriyaki glaze, plum sauce, and the cilantro sriracha. The Green Goddess and the Gorgonzola both pair nicely with the mushrooms, like a stuffed mushroom. The yogurt curry is good with the vegetables. I like the teriyaki or plum on the sirloin, and the strong cocktail sauce is perfect for the shrimp. We did not care for the sriracha which they’ve never brought to our table before, so maybe it’s new. They will gladly bring you more of any of the sauces.
Even though the dessert was not included in the Groupon, we always order dessert here. We don’t normally order dessert in restaurants, but The Melting Pot is an exception. The chocolate fondue is the #1 reason to dine at this establishment. This visit we decided on the Caramel Toffee Crunch which had a milk chocolate base with caramel and toffee crumbles added. This was excellent, but we’ve really not tried a dessert fondue there that wasn’t excellent. We’ve had the Bananas Foster, the S’mores, and a Cookies & Cream that wasn’t on the menu this time. The Caramel Toffee Crunch may be new because it is not reflected on the online menu. The dippers they bring for the dessert fondue are fresh strawberries, bananas, pineapple, cubed brownies and blondies, coated marshmallows, rice krispy treats, and squares of cheesecake. We normally just order dessert for one and share that because we are stuffed by that time, and the dessert is $10.95 per serving. This time we forgot to tell our server we just wanted it for one, and it ended up being way too much. We left quite a bit on the table.
The Melting Pot is an amazing dining experience that’s out of the ordinary and something everyone should try at least one time. On a humorous side note, my brother once took a date, who he obviously didn’t know very well, to The Melting Pot. Only when they were ordering did he realize she was a vegetarian. They had to select a bunch of vegetarian options which stunk for him, and this was before Groupon, so he was paying full price. He dropped over a hundred dollars on a very awkward evening. His date might have been perfectly happy with the food, but he was not so thrilled with paying so much for this young lady to eat vegetables. If he had known, he definitely would have taken her somewhere else. My kids though The Melting Pot was alright the time they were with us, but it’s not something they are super thrilled about either, so I probably won’t bring them again unless any of them decide it’s something they really want to do. It’s too expensive for an experience that they just consider mediocre. They loved the dessert but asked if we could get a pizza on the way home, so we left them home the next time and brought a pizza. It’s been three or four years since they tried it though, so maybe it would be a different result if they gave it another chance. I’ve enjoyed the food very much and had a pleasant experience every time I’ve visited the The Melting Pot.
What have been your experiences with Groupon? What products, services, or experiences has Groupon allowed you to try that you might not have taken a chance on otherwise?