Friday, August 01, 2008
My nephew Colin's eyes lit up when I gave "Swiss" as one of the dining choices one evening, thinking of The Melting Pot in the old brick kiln in Larkspur. The interior is just charming, but very dark so my 88 yo father had a hard time maneuvering in and being able to read the menu in the dim light. However, it's a perfect romantic nook!
We decided on total indulgence and ordered "The Big Night Out" with five key decisions to make. The first one was which cheese fondue. Colin was excited to try the Wisconsin Trio, which included Fontina, Butterkase and Buttermilk Bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry. It was a very nice blend with a great bleu note.
Next choice - salads. Colin enjoyed his Caesar.
Dad enjoyed a beautiful House Salad with a variety of accents, tomato, cheese, and egg for example.
I tried the California Salad. It was composed of mixed baby salad greens, Roma tomatoes, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with a Raspberry Black Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing. It was delicious.
Next choice up was the entree selection, followed by method of cooking. We chose the Fondue Feast, which consisted of Filet Mignon Medalion, Jerk Seasoned Sirlion, Vanilla Rum Chicken, Marinated Pork Tenderloin, Zesty Peppered Shrimp, Butternut Squast Ravioli, and fresh vegetables (Broccoli, Mushroom caps & parboiled red potatoes). The portion above was for 2.
We chose the Court Bouillon cooking style rather than the more traditional Bourguignonne to attempt (ha!) to lighten it up. Court Bouillon is a vegetable broth that the ingredients are simmered in, while the Bourguignonne is basically frying the pieces in hot oil.
The number of sauces offered to dip the meat in was so large that I could not remember which was which, nor what each was supposed to go with. And honestly either the bouillon or the marinades made the meats and seafood bites VERY SALTY. The sauces did not rescue that. Other than that, the flavors were good.
As if the three courses previously weren't enough to completely satiate one, the last choice was type of chocolate fondue for dessert. Colin wanted the Bailey's Irish Cream Dream, that was the house milk chocolate swirled with Bailey's Irish Cream. Oh wow. That combination rocks!
As if the fruit on the dipping ingredients plate made it 'healthy'. One can always dream!
Dream of a marshmallow swirled in it like this. The service was friendly, and given all the courses that you cook at the table in little pieces, this is a place for a slow, romantic evening with lots of meaningful pauses.
I'm writing this from The Lemon Tree Inn in beautiful Santa Barbara where it is Fiesta time! All the beachside hotels were sold out, and Colin chose this one from the street. I have the feeling that the "Crocodile Restaurant & Bar" caught his attention most, which is adjacent. I'm spending my last bit of time with him traveling slowly down the coast before delivering him home. There were people lining State Street last evening selling colorful eggs. We asked the front desk staff what these were, and one replied that they are shells of real eggs carefully filled with confetti and sealed up to use to throw and break during the festivities. He remembered the tradition since he was a child growing up and what fun it has brought the children (young and old!) of the city.