An Updated Blast from the Past

by Renee on October 1, 2010

Fondue has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid growing up in the 70s and every hip family on the block had a fondue set with those colorful red, yellow, green and blue tipped skewers. It wasn’t just for a special occasion, either. We fondued nearly every weekend for a stretch, and the cheese and chocolate fondues were always the best.  (Is “fondued” a verb?)

Fast forward 30 or so years, and Paul and I belong to a group of a dozen or so friends who hold bi-monthly dinner club get-togethers, with themes ranging from cuisines like Tuscan or “food on a stick.” We’ve gone through the decades: 50s cocktail party, 60s “Mad Men” dinner, and of course, the 70s fondue. Occasionally we dress the part. (Hard to know what to wear for food-on-a-stick.)

The whole idea of fondue is so popular once again (like tie-dye and peace signs) that there is a restaurant chain dedicated to that very thing. The Melting Pot has both an east and west side location here in Northeast Ohio–ghod forbid we should have to cross the Cuyahoga River for fondue. Our family has been several times for various occasions, such as my daughter Ali’s 13th birthday three years ago. It’s fun.

When I learned the Melting Pot was having a beer dinner with the Great Lakes Brewing Company beers, I quickly made a reservation. It wasn’t something a fan of fondue and beer such as myself could pass up.

Arriving, I sat down in a cozy booth, and the first thing my server John brought was the Great Lakes Wright Pils, a nice light beer that was popular this past summer at the brewery. My palate was warmed up and ready for the feast to begin.

First course was a bacon and cheddar cheese fondue, served with some crudité of bread, vegetables, fruit and the Burning River Pale Ale. The citrusy undernote of the beer went well with the green apples, and well, you just can’t beat a sharp cheddar and apples. And bacon.

The second course was a cucumber and spring mix salad, accompanied by the Dortmunder Gold Lager. The salad was mostly forgettable, but that Dortmunder goes with everything and it was delicious.

Next, the entrée plate included a wide array of tastes to try: sauerbraten New York strip steak, bratwurst, garlic chicken, fennel pork (my favorite), Hefeweisen marinated shrimp, and a nice plump potato pierogi. A taste of each of these came with the seasonal Oktoberfest amber lager. The color reminded me of the changing orange leaves–perfect for fall. With a very nice balance of malt and hops, that’s the one beer over the course of the dinner that I asked for seconds.

But the best course of all was dessert, hands down. A plate of sweets to dip in dark chocolate accompanied by the bittersweet coffee and chocolatey-flavored Edmund Fitzgerald Porter–heaven. Black forest cake, pound cake, cheesecake, strawberries, bananas, marshmellows, and even bites of Rice Crispy squares were presented to swirl in that warm chocolate richness. What a finish.

I’d like to give a special shout out to John, my server, who was very attentive and fun to talk with about beer and writing. I also enjoyed meeting Zack and Erica from Great Lakes Brewing, who stopped by to answer any questions and make sure the beers were to my liking. They were. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and a note for the future: I’ll be back.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt October 5, 2010 at 2:41 am

One of my favorite restaurants!…and they always have a good supply of craft brews on hand. Love the blog, keep up the fight for good beer!

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Renee October 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Thanks for stopping by!

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Dylan October 5, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Dude, nice post. Where is your feed?

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Renee October 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Dudette, actually. You can add my feed on your RSS reader. Or follow me on twitter as well: http://www.twitter.com/brewersdaughter

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