When Shakespeare imagined a den of witches, he saw them gathered around boiling pots, cackling and talking, casting raw morsels into their cauldrons from the ends of long, sharp sticks. Time revealed his vision to belong to something far less sinister: the bard simply foresaw the fondue restaurant. Today, hundreds of people gather at The Melting Pot’s more than 140 North American locations to cast romantic spells over one another as they share sweets, breads, vegetables, and meats doused in liquid chocolate, melted cheese, or flavored oil. They all wield double-pronged spears—or fondue forks—to suspend the tasty morsels of their choice in the ambrosial liquids before them, which are cleverly heated by stovetops built into each and every table in The Melting Pot's restaurants. The chefs prepare most platters in sizes best shared by two, making the venue ideal for date nights or reunions with twins who left 10 years ago to study the art of fondue.
At The Melting Pot of Baton Rouge, staffers use the restaurant to invest in their community as well. They host charity events, school fundraisers, and even run a program to reward straight-A students with a free fondue dinner.
At Bourbon Bistro and Bar, chef Michael Craft, a Baton Rouge native, marries his Cajun roots with his Texan cooking experience to cast a unique spin on the classic bistro. The French influence is hidden within such Cajun dishes as étouffée hash, po' boy sandwiches, and fried catfish. Roasted poblano peppers and regional spices add their kick to the crayfish étouffée and steal the spotlight in the pulled-pork nachos and quesadillas. Each of the chef’s creations is made with fresh, local ingredients and pairs well with the casual eatery's wide selection of bourbon.
When Mike Kantrow founded his original sandwich shop in 1979, he thought the name Byron's looked too boring. So, as he explains on his restaurant's website, he scratched the s and added a z to the end, giving birth to both a local legend with the Big Byronz sandwich and a local controversy over how to pronounce "Byronz." "If you want clarification on how to say it," Mike explains, "don't ask me."
So while regulars may fight over phonetics, few argue over the flavors infused in Bistro Byronz's southern-styled bistro cuisine. Hearty entrees anchor both the lunch and dinner menus, inviting diners to dig into the roasted potatoes that flank a French-cut pork chop marinated in Abita root beer. Comfort dishes soothe the soul, such as tender pot roast that wades in creole gravy and the signature Byronz sandwich with three types of meat, cheeses, dressing, and black olives.
Inside The Jambalaya Shoppe's Government Street eatery, diners savor dishes of smoked chicken, crawfish pie, slow-cooked red beans, and other mouthwatering Cajun classics. The comfortable ambiance—paper towels are a staple at each table—is enhanced with red-checkered tablecloths and a black-and-white mural depicting a classic Southern landscape. When patrons approach the counter overhung by a chalkboard menu, ordering a spread for takeout is also an option. The restaurant's cooks can pack styrofoam coolers with potato salad, gumbo, and chicken-breast dinners for patrons to take to tailgating events and picnics.