Two Local Fondue Shops Go Head-To-Head in an Epic Buck Battle

The Melting Pot
What do applies, sausages and pound cake have in common? They are all available to dip in fondue at the Melting Pot. At first glance the restaurant may look ordinary in the busy bustle of downtown San Jose, but inside is a whole different story. The dim lights and cozy booths give the Melting Pot a romantic feel with a modern twist.

Friendly and patient waiters are always standing by to make sure that glasses are always full and to help out some first time fondue-ers, as they prepare customized fondue in front of you, they always make sure to keep you informed as to what in the world they are doing.

The menu is enough to make anyone hungry, with a seemingly infinite number of combinations. But after choosing the meal, the night plummets downhill.

The first course up is the cheese fondue, which offers selections such as cheddar cheese and and spinach artichoke. The assortment of raw vegetables, strange-looking bread and dripping wet apples available for dipping do nothing except add a bizarre texture that makes eating a hassle.

While the salad that comes afterward may be a nice relief from the steaming hot fondue, after the first few bites it’s more a chore than anything. A few pieces of lettuce and some dressing on a plate are not worth $7.

The main entree looks as appetizing as raw meat and a few spices on a plate could, but after cooking for two minutes in a pot of boiling broth, any sort of seasoning that might have been on it falls off. The only thing making the course worth continuing to eat are the sauces that come with it.

After a disappointing night, there may only be one thing that makes the whole trip worth  it: the chocolate fondue. From mixtures of white chocolate and dark chocolate to chocolate with caramel and pecans, the dessert is absolutely divined. The chocolate comes with a wide array of fruits, brownies, marshmallows, Rice Krispies, cheesecake and more to dip in the fondue.

As mediocre as the food is, the price of the Melting Pot hurts more than getting stabbed with a fondue fork. Prices can hit over $100 when indulging in all four courses. All the entrees are meant for two, so be prepared to bring a friend along. Altogether you really are paying for the experience, not the food. But if in downtown San Jose, take a stop by the Melting Pot for the dessert, not the whole meal.

The Melting Pot is located at 72 South First Street in San Jose and is open Sunday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 5 p.m. to midnight.

La Fondue
Snuggling into the high, I dip my long fork into a vat of warm chocolate and listen to the buzz of late-night college students that are filling the stone hallways with their drunken laughter. The cute waiter brings me a second plate of strawberries and turns up the burner’s heat. I’m not dreaming—I’m at La Fondue, a Swiss fondue restaurant in downtown Saratoga. Despite its distance from Los Altos, La Fondue is an internationally chic, romantic dining experience that is well worth the drive. With two-person meals ringing in at around $100, fondue isn’t exactly an everyday stop, but it’s an even not one can miss.

While most visitors opt for the least expensive four course combinations for two persons, the late-night doors are open for chocoholics, offering the option of chocolate-only fondue on weekdays after 10 p.m. But if you are interested in more than sweets, the menu offers a variety of cheese fondues, salads, meat, seafood and vegetable fondues, totaling more than 75 selections.

The simple act of choosing an entree could drive you insane because there are so many options, but despite the menu’s potential for being overwhelming, the abundance of choice is refreshingly enjoyable. After the initial choice of salad, cheese, meat platter and chocolate, you are able to relax and glide through a beautiful meal that is set exactly to your specifications.

And the choices should not be so stressful, because everything is absolutely delicious and comes in portions that are both friendly and filling. The exception is the suggested chef salad with honey mustard dressing, which is pure melt-in-your-mouth goodness but also the size of a small forest.

The cheese fondue is additionally lovely, with selections ranging from traditional cheddar mixes to the most exotic forms of cheese. Served with bread, fruit and veggies, it’s a offer that is hard to refuse, trumped only by dessert. For a main course, guests can grill or boil meats right at their table, with choices that range from basic chicken breast to exotic “wild things” like alligator, ostrich and wild boar. Top the evening off with decadent chocolate fondue; dunk in a strawberry, maybe a Snickers bar and enjoy the rest of your evening. With super-friendly service and even better food, La Fondue is officially the place to be.

So in conclusion, if you get that craving for delicious fondue, be it cheese, meat or chocolate, the place to be is La Fondue in Saratoga.