by Samantha Grieder
Capital Cooking Contributor
It's dimly lit. Couples seated around you are dipping strawberries in chocolate while drinking cocktails and wine. You must be at the Melting Pot.
But besides the romance and special occasion dinners, the DC fondue restaurants have taken inspiration from American classics and are serving them up in a new way.
This limited-time menu is called The Big Night Out. It's four courses that feature familiar items that are revamped into fondue form.
Your Big Night Out begins with a cheese fondue made with Samuel Adams Boston Lager. With cheddar mixing with a mild Emmenthaler, smoked bacon, onion, Dijon, Tabasco, and scallions to finish it off, the nutty meets spicy meets crunchy in this gooey concoction. Dip in pieces of bread or fresh cuts of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower to get started.
The second course gives you a break from the dipping action, with a Wisconsin Wedge Salad. Tomatoes, gorgonzola, more bacon and a peppercorn ranch dressing round it out.
Guests receive a choice in meats and cooking styles for their third course. For $39 per person, get Angus sirloin, Old Bay shrimp, buffalo chicken, Memphis-style BBQ pork tenderloin and wild mushroom sacchetti, a little pocket of mushroom-filled pasta. Add $9 to that and you get cold-water lobster tails instead of the Angus beef. But if it's a special night and you're really hungry, get it all for $92 per couple. Choose Coq au Vin or Mojo cooking pots and you'll be all set.
Still hungry? It's time for dessert. It is The Melting Pot, after all. One taste of the Big Night Out's fourth course selection and you know it's familiar. It's comforting. But why? It's the restaurant's take on the classic peanut butter and jelly combination. With milk chocolate, crunchy peanut butter that melts and leaves bits of peanuts behind, and a puree of blackberry, raspberry and strawberry, it's a guarantee that any person who loves the PB & J will love this dessert.
And if guests are feeling really enthusiastic about tasting all the American flavors the Melting Pot has to offer, a four-course American craft beer or wine pairing flight can be ordered to go along with the meal.
With restaurants in DC, Arlington, Reston, and Gaithersburg, you can be sure to find a location to try this menu before it disappears. For more information, visit www.meltingpot.com or follow them on Twitter.