In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.
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.
At Safari Café, people sip coffee and espresso beverages made from local Arbor Vitae roasts and munch fresh paninis, salads, and pizzas that populate a menu of café fare. Caffeinate for a morning commute or late night of tracing new constellations with a double-shot of espresso cloaked in Ghirardelli Chocolate sauce and steamed milk ($4.99). Hot drinks such as mocha ($3.35–$4.25) percolate alongside their chilled brethren, while the hearty Lion Appetite breakfast includes a trio of pancakes fortified with turkey bacon or sausage and two eggs ($4.99). Lunchtime snacks and sandwiches include The Beast ($5.99+), a baked helping of steak and mozzarella cheese as tender and gooey as a love note from a jellyfish.
The kitchens inside La Bamba look a bit different from most. That's because they don't have a freezer or a fryer, and instead focus on fresh food cooked right in front of the customer. The restaurant's chefs start with traditional bolillos?a soft Mexican roll?or tortillas that are made specifically for the restaurant each day. In addition to the as-big-as-your-head La Bamba burrito, they craft tacos and tortas with meat or vegetarian fillings. Chefs then add a spicy touch and splash dishes with their hot sauce, which is so popular people ask for it in bottles or pepper-spray form.