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.
New to the Loop, Ginger Bistro fuses French and North American culinary touches with time-tested recipes from China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Pan-Pacific region to create a harmonious global summit of flavors. The menu boasts a variety of dishes prepared from fresh ingredients, each presented with a careful artist's touch and collapsible easel. Tasters run the gamut from the Philly cheese steak rolls ($4.95) to house specials such as Korean bulgoki beef ($12.95), banh mi sandwiches ($4.95), peppercorn bean curd ($6.95), curry fried rice ($6.95), and a selection of sushi ($4.50–$9.95). A $4.95 lunch menu is available between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., which sidekicks heroic dishes such as pineapple chicken fried rice and Mandarin pork with the delicious comic relief of the soup of the day.
The classic American sports-bar vibe effused by Market Pub House’s memorabilia-covered walls and overhead TVs belies the eatery’s diverse spread of multinational pub fare. Like a cozy bathrobe woven from dark matter, the menu combines the comfortable and familiar with the exotic, dishing out traditional deli staples and hot wings along with tangy greek salads, crusty banh mis, and Latin- and Asian-infused appetizers. Eighteen frosty beers on tap lubricate game-day viewing across multiple flat-screen TVs as well as weekly karaoke and trivia, and an ample outdoor patio hosts guests at more than a dozen wrought-iron tables.
The brainchild of former Washington University medical research Bill Courtney, Cheese-ology Macaroni & Cheese has been lauded by Riverfront Times as the best restaurant concept of 2010 for its assemblage of more than a dozen mac 'n' cheese varieties. Alongside a series of limited-edition macs, customers can treat taste buds to meat, vegetarian, and vegan macaroni dishes and salads brimming with such tasty ingredients as steak, kalamata olives, and vegan cheese from Daiya. A plethora of libations helps bites of noodles and cheese sail smoothly down the gastro canals of each feaster, and cools down patrons who have spent the day emptying gravy-mix packets into a neighbor's pool.
It’s the classic conundrum: an intense craving for cookies, but not enough time, motivation, or bribe money for the Keebler Elf syndicate to satisfy the yearning. Dough to Door has discovered a way to satiate this craving without forcing busy civilians to slave over an oven for hours or spend precious gas driving to the store; they whip up batches of custom cookies themselves and deliver them right to customers' doorsteps. Patrons choose from bases of five types of dough—including oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate—before opting to add mix-ins of dried fruit, crumbled candy bars, eight types of chips, and nuts. Ready-made cookies are also available to take away the pressures of decision-making.
Gyros in the Loop’s capable culinarians quell appetite insurrections with a menu of casual Greek goodies. Order up the restaurant’s titular treat, a regular gyro ($5.50), to sail toward savory satisfaction on a pillowy pita raft captained by delicious meat and crewed by lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce. Gyrophobes can also opt for a vegetarian sandwich ($5), packed with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki sauce, and feta cheese, or a Greek salad ($6.50), sporting tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and other ingredients enjoyed in Greece since Socrates first stole them from the Trojans. The restaurant’s recently remodeled interior catches the eyes of eaters but returns them upon request.
Inside Nico’s dining room, brocade wallpaper creeps up to high ceilings, where modern-style chandeliers hang over wooden tables and bright-green booths. Amid this scene, or outdoors under bright red umbrellas, the wait staff brings dishes that showcase original twists on traditional flavors hailing from Spain, Morocco, Italy, and France. Pastas, steaks, and seafood stews are the highlights of the dinner menu, while lunchers dine on sandwiches and weekend brunchers sample omelets and Catalonian sausage.