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.
L'Eiffel Bistrot & Creperie features an elegant menu of French dishes, including a perfectly paired selection of hot and cold appetizers and a savory crepe menu. Jump-start your meal engine with passed nibbles of frog legs in garlic butter ($9.25) or the assorted French cheese plate ($11.50). Folded planes of creamed spinach, artichoke, ricotta, and parmesan cheese tempt diners in the La Popeye crepe ($9.50), while the classic La Bistrot piles on ham, Swiss, and béchamel sauce ($8.95). Entrees, such as half of a roasted duck with barley ($22.95) or grass-fed beef tenderloin ($26.95), can be paired with a glass or bottle from the extensive wine list or a cocktail from le bar, one of Chicagoland's rare absinthe habitats.
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.
Born as a humble street cart in Chicago, Suzette's Creperie has moved to the cozy comforts of downtown Wheaton. Whether diners nibble within the bistro walls or out upon the open-air patio, they'll be free to indulge in a variety of French-inspired fare, including crepes, quiches, and dinnertime entrees. Crepes include savory selections such as spinach soufflé topped in swiss cheese ($12.50 at lunch), or beef bourguignon, braised in red wine for six hours and then rolled into fluffy tubes of satisfaction ($15.50 at lunch). Quiches, served with a side salad of baby field greens and balsamic vinaigrette, include fillings such as lorraine, broccoli and cheddar, or spinach ($10.50 each), while large-scale entrees (available during dinner) include crab cakes with habanero lime sauce ($20) and duck confit with wild mushroom risotto ($21.50), which singlehandedly sends a warning to humankind's two biggest threats—ducks and mushrooms.
Café Amano summons patrons to its elegant, warmly lit interior with the savory aromas of gourmet small plates, salads, pastas, entrees, and more. Warm up over a plate of warming gnocchi di pesto, potato dumplings chaperoned by apple-and-gouda chicken sausage ($17), or sink your teeth into an elegant entree such as the oven-roasted rack of Australian lamb chops, enrobed in a shiitake mushroom port wine reduction ($29). A menu of decadent handmade desserts sports sweeties such as the chocolate l’orange torte, infused with Grand Marnier and tipsily donning a lampshade-style hat of chocolate ganache ($9). Relax in the cream and black accented dining room with a correspondingly hued Intelligentsia café au lait ($3), or sip on an imported dessert selection from the wine list such as the French Pineau des Charentes ($7 per glass). View the full menu here.
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).
When Chef Joseph Calabres finished he education at the Culinary Institute of America, he left with a passion for cuisine of the classic French bistro. While he honed his knife skills and sous chefery in professional kitchens, he harbored the dream to start his own sidewalk eatery. He eventually realized his goal in the form of Café Touche. His menu highlights many of the same dishes enjoyed in bistros for the last hundred years, such as fresh boullaibaise, steak frites, and classic garlic buttered escargot served in a piping hot ceramic crock. The décor evokes the same ambience of a Parisian sidewalk as the kitchen’s aromas. Textured tin ceilings abut exposed brick walls, punctuated by the warm, glowing orbs of light cast from wall sconces. The extensive wine list completes the milieu with plenty of French vintages, stored in a cellar ideal for plotting protests.