The Melting Pot gives you the feeling that you're living in a parallel universe. Everything is very much like you would expect in a luxurious restaurant except there are some fundamental changes that are both subtle and dramatic.
First off the place is gorgeous. It's dark and intimate with deep woods, frosted glass, dramatic lighting and inviting carpets. The staff is handsome, courteous and prompt - all decked out in black. For a new restaurant, it's moving very smoothly. The building is circular and the theme repeats itself in large and small curves. The bar and private rooms over to the left are just begging for a Hollywood movie crew to shoot. Although it was fairly quiet when we arrived, I can see this becoming quite the spot.
I know what it is. It's like Gulfstream or Houstons, except it's round! That's the vibe. But that's just the beginning.
The menu is half wine, and as soon as you walk in the door, you can see that they are nuts for wine at the Melting Pot. They have several hundred bottles on display in a glass case that reminded me of the house in Thirteen Ghosts. Very cool. But since you know I'm not a wine guy, that's about all I have to say about that. But if you must know, they had some bomb cocktails. I myself had a lemonade, vodka and basil concoction that was frosty and chock full of strawberries. It didn't knock me over, nor was it too fruity. It was pleasantly different - parallel universe style, and it didn't make me feel like I was experimenting with my masculinity.
The other half of the menu is what the Melting Pot is all about and it is about as different as possible. What the Spousal Unit and I had was called the Lobster Indulgence. It was a huge, delicious, continental meal. Now you've had teppan, Benihana style, and you may have even had Korean Barbecue cooked right at your table, but you have never had fondue, so get prepared.
It works like this. There are four courses, three of which center around two hot pots cooking in the center of your marble-top table. Or just one if you're a party of two. Fondue is all about dipping and boiling. You get a huge variety of foods brought to you and you dip it or cook it right at your table. Yeah. Different! The first is the appetizer. In this you have six choices of cheesy treats as a basis to cook up in your two pots. We had the triple Wisconsin and the spinach and artichoke. Hey. Hot spinach dip is like Houstons, but we're in the parallel universe and the server prepares it right in front of you. For dippin', we had apples, celery, carrots, cauliflower, crusty breads and tortilla chips. Aha, now I know what those big long skewer forks are for.
Now since the restaurant is new, the servers don't have their speil down while they're preparing, but knowing what we know of Benihana, we can be sure that they're going to have some entertaining banter as time goes by. This time I decided to dominate the conversation. Next time, we'll see.
Next comes salad. I had Southwestern Cobb. Mmm bacony! The Unit had a ceasar with pine nuts. Really superb. Hey, I'm getting full already.
The main course for the Lobster Indulgence is what this is all about. I'm going to try to spare you some details because I'd be here all day. And by the way, when you go to get this which is the full-on treatment, you had better bring your appetite, have three hours (seriously) and a watch. Lobster, beef tenderloin, salmon, spiced chicken, shrimp. Those are your meats. Mushrooms, red potatoes, broccoli. Those are your veggies. Two boiling pots of broth - we chose the Coq au Vin French and the Mojo Caribbean. And nine, count 'em nine sauces. Pick a meat, pick a veggie, fondue it for 90 seconds or 120 seconds in a pot, shag it onto your plate and pick a sauce. The combination of tastes is astounding. How is it that food so familiar can be so different? It must be a parallel universe.
I never do dessert. 99% of the time, I'm too stuffed or make some kind of excuse. I'm telling you now, there is no way to resist a simmering pot of chocolate for dipping. We had two, one with milk chocolate the other with cherries jubilee en flambe swimming in dark chocolate. For dipping? Rice Crispies Treats, marshmallows in graham cracker or Oreo dusting, cheesecake, poundcake, bananas and brownies.
I'm trying to remember how I got out of the joint under my own power. As you know, I only give five stars when a restaurant shows me something I didn't know and didn't expect. This was out of this world. I've got to go again.
21525 Hawthorne Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90503