When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
After a few minutes inside L'Eiffel Bistrot & Creperie, visitors will be forgiven for thinking they've discovered a wormhole connecting them directly to Paris. The carefully sourced selections on the restaurant's lengthy wine list contribute to this sense of dislocation; so do special events such as wine tastings, fashion showcases, and the occasional peasant uprising.
The kitchen, however, is the biggest reason why one might unconsciously start humming the Amelie soundtrack. L'Eiffel's chefs make traditional French cuisine with organic ingredients, and those ingredients appear throughout the elegant entrees of roasted duck in orange sauce, braised beef in a Burgundy wine sauce, and fresh mussels. As for the bistro's namesake dish, crepes can land on the white tabecloths with savory country ham and swiss cheese or wine-poached salmon bundled inside.
Miramar Bistro pleases patrons with a high-concept menu that straddles French, Cuban, and American sensibilities. Dive in with herb-marinated olives ($6.50) or an artichoke terrine ($9.95), or opt to start with a crab, scallop, and lobster cake ($14.50), the preferred cake of birthday parties all over Atlantis. Sandwiches include Cuban ham and cheese ($9.50) and pressed chicken pesto ($8.75), as well as croque monsieur ($8.95) and croque madame ($9.95), often called the Mork and Mindy of cuisine. Steak au poivre ($25.95) is the stuff meaty dreams are made of, while a duo of short ribs and rack of lamb ($32) means cowboys and shepherds can finally break bread without also breaking into a blistering freestyle rap battle. A lunch menu is available to quell daytime appetite insurrections, and a Sunday brunch buffet helps pack maximum pleasure into precious weekend hours.
Carlos and Debbie Nieto?the proprietors of the once-famed Carlos' restaurant and its successor, Nieto's?took inspiration from the bistros of Paris when they opened Cafe Central in 1995. Today, Adam Nieto and his dedicated team craft a variety of contemporary, French-inspired food. Salads feature poached chicken or traditional ni?oise toppings, and roast duckling comes drizzled with peach sauce. They also offer risotto that changes weekly along with their long standing grass fed beef cheeseburger.
The dining room also cultivates an ambiance based on the City of Light. Black-clothed tables topped with natural butcher paper reminiscent of a quaint caf? play host to dishes of country pat? and center cuts of Black Angus filet mignon. Colorful artwork accentuates the butter-yellow walls. A classic black-and-white checkered floor makes the whole place pop, and requires you to checkmate your waiter before they will offer you dessert.
Happenstance restaurateurs Rakesh and Sarina Chopra opened Sansaveria after a whirlwind excursion to the city of lights left them longing to bring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris back home with them. Meals commence with classic appetizers such as the baked onion soup ($5) or a French charcuterie plate, boasting a collection of cured meats, artisan cheeses, and multilingual croustades ($12). Pair plats principaux such as the garlic and herb sautéed steak Mediterranean ($27), or the wine-basted, caper-kissed sautéed tilapia carciofi ($19), with one of more than 40 wines, or choose any three by-the-glass options to sample a flight of fermented fancy. Suppers saunter toward their sugary conclusions with decadent delights including homemade bananas foster and Grand Marnier–filled crêpes ($7), or with sweet cocktails such as the creamy and indulgent choco-tini or a Sambuca Romana cordial—known for its impeccable manners.