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.
Dubbed one of the best crêpe purveyors in Chicago by Chicago magazine in 2010, La France Café & Crepes welcomes diners with a mellifluous menu of French flatcakes that sets tongues to tapping and moustaches to twirling. Chef Ben Mchabcheband and his culinary crew carefully construct each crêpe fresh to order, filling its belly with sweet or savory selections. To help you recall sweet dreams, choose warm apricots smothered in melted brie atop a sweet vanilla crêpe ($8.95) or nestle apples with cinnamon and caramel within a sweet crêpe blanket ($8.95). Crêpe forestiers envelope chicken or beef, wild mushrooms, and gruyere cheese to deliver a savory meal and epistles from the front lines of the kitchen ($12.95), while open-faced galettes expose the stomach-invading strategies of empire-driven eggs and various members of their hunger-trouncing team, such as ham, fresh tomatoes, and braised spinach ($11.95).
On a summer trip to Paris, Suzette's Creperie's owner, Suzette, fell in love with the local street vendors' delicate, ultra-thin crepes. When she got back to the States, she decided to give Chicagoans a taste of the fancy fast-food eats she adored and started selling them herself out of a crepe cart.
Since those authentically French beginnings, Suzette's cart has blossomed into a full-fledged French bistro in Downtown Wheaton, though sweet and savory crepes remain the focus of the menu. One arrives stuffed with saut?ed salmon; another ensconces hot fudge and banana slices. Duck confit, wine, and other French staples complement the crepes.
The service at Suzette's is European-style, which means that the staff allows meals to unfold at a leisurely pace, rather than leaving a running stopwatch on each table. Live jazz often enhances the European atmosphere.
This full-service butcher shop and French market stocks its shelves with fine organic and artisanal goods. Grass-fed beef arrives in everything from burger-ready ground pounds ($4.95) to tenderloin cuts ($27.99 per pound), and free-range Amish chickens are available whole ($2.99 per pound), tasting like chicken, or in boneless, skinless breast fillets ($4.99 per pound). Eco-conscious pescatarians can enjoy sustainable seafood such as Atlantic salmon ($10.99 per pound) and Canadian whitefish ($7.99 per pound), and completely vegetarian gourmands can benefit from shelves of epicurean butters, fresh breads, organic produce, fragrant flowers, vibrant seasonings, and more. Groupon customers are invited to attend the grand opening celebration of Amano Boucherie on Saturday, February 19, from 11 a.m.—4 p.m.
Don't be worried if you order a crepe at Nu Crepes and the food arrives looking like a calzone. These are not the delicate crepes made in French-style creperies. They're hearty and stuffed so full that sometimes they land on tables in a circular tin pan. Those crepes might come stuffed with chicken doused in buffalo or barbecue sauce?or italian sausage mixed with green peppers and mushrooms. Sweeter palates, however, can keep it classic with cinnamon and sugar, or relish a campfire blend of marshmallows, biscoff, graham cracker, and chocolate. At breakfast, the egg-and-sausage crepes provide tastier morning fuel than a gasoline smoothie.
Owner Niall Martin never stops experimenting with new combos, either. Such wild creations as peppermint crunch, sloppy joe, and Greek breakfast have all starred as crepe of the month at some point. The kitchen sources everything it can from local vendors. In fact, Chicago's Dark Matter Coffee created an exclusive house blend just for the creperie.