Inside Fuji’s modern, lounge-like dining space, dimly lit by drop lighting, hibachi chefs flip shrimp and slabs of new york strip steak on the grill. Meanwhile, sushi chefs chop, blend, and roll ingredients into 65 varieties of colorful rolls, many oven baked, partially or fully tempura fried, or draped in spicy and sticky sauces. Bartenders pour international wines, beers, top-shelf spirits, and a wide range of sakes to complement each dish. As diners toast to a romantic dinner date with someone special or a successful business lunch with an entrepreneurial sock puppet, servers bustle between tables, ferrying traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes such as broiled mussels, spicy gyoza pot stickers, sukiyaki steaks, and deep-fried, katsu-style pork and chicken.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new restaurant in Tallahassee. This location grew to pave the way for the future. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—is the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants. The restaurant's menu has also grown, 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.
Devoted to the emerging farm-to-table agricultural movement, 610 Magnolia uses local and sustainable foodstuffs to create artful and innovative three-course prix fixe ($50/person) and four-course prix fixe ($60/person) meals. Chef Edward Lee, who was recently named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast and featured in Southern Living, harnesses international techniques to infuse southern cuisine with eclectic flavors. The variability of local and seasonal pickings makes dishes change as often as a carousel, but past offerings have included Angus beef tartar with pequillo peppers, wax beans, and heirloom tomatoes picked just miles away, and a mosaic of grilled octopus slices with red pepper, cucumber, and feta in tomato-water gelée drizzled in kalamata olive vinaigrette and oregano oil. 610 Magnolia’s skilled kitchen crew can accommodate vegetarian preferences if they’re noted at the time the reservation is made.
Named one of the Top 100 Places to Drink in the South by Imbibe, Bourbon’s Bistro fills glasses with more than 130 varieties of rare bourbons including Heaven Hill, Ancient Age, and Old Rip Van Winkle. In the restaurant, located within a 1877 building, diners feast upon bourbon-inspired meals seated at one of many cozy tables lining a brick wall decorated with pictures of the past and midnight blue curtains. The bone-in pork chop exudes the sweetness of bourbon with a topping trio of caramelized apples, country ham, and bourbon glaze, while the Maple-leaf Farms duck breast is paired with roasted fingerlings, caramelized brussels sprouts, bacon lardons, and aged balsamic.
In 1818, George and Elizabeth Moore built a new house in which to raise their future family. Their youngest daughter, Mariah, would go on to spend her entire life in the home her parents had bequeathed to her. When Rick Kelley and David Sears decided to transform the historic residence into a restaurant nearly a century after her passing, they chose the name to honor its longest-term resident. They also added a 3,000-square-foot expansion and restored the fireplaces, wood flooring, and brick walls to their original appearance.
Thanks to these refurbishments, Mariah’s old home seems to have found new life in the 21st century. Where she used to cook, chefs now hand-cut steaks and slide thin-crust pizzas into a large brick oven for firing. As Bowling Green's oldest standing brick structure, the nearly 200-year-old Mariah Moore House offers diners much to gaze at if they can pry their eyes away from the hearty fare on their plates. The building’s historic accents include a Brunswick bar top from the 1880s, an aged carousel horse, and a TV-video wall salvaged from Grover Cleveland’s presidential situation room.