When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, diners had just three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. The restaurant first expanded four years later, when an enterprising waiter at the initial location opened up a new outpost in Tallahassee. Today, the company—now owned by that original waiter, Mark Johnston, and his brothers Mike and Bob—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 expanded, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of viscous-loving foodies gather around tables to nosh on cheese fondue appetizers and various salads while cooking steaks and seafood in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and romance seekers cap decadent evenings sharing chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
With its deep-burgundy walls, heavy curtains, and crystal-draped chandeliers, What Crepe?s dining room hearkens back to Belle ?poque?era Paris. The scent of simmering crepe batter and melting cheese further imbues the bistro with an aura of authenticity. Chefs flip more than 50 sweet, savory, gluten-free, and vegan crepe varieties that have earned praise from the Detroit Free Press for their freshness and ability to be delivered through mail slots. Savory standout The Obvious garnishes chicken and caramelized apples with feta, while the Nutty Monkey blends banana and Nutella, then tops them with vanilla ice cream. In addition to crepes, dining companions can share sips of organic tea and the restaurant?s own blend of french-press coffee.
Café Felix's well-caffeinated patrons snack and sip in the creative company of the adjoining book and music store. Before coffee streams into one of its ceramics, each bean journeys through an organic infancy and fair-trade adolescence before advancing into self-critical maturity in one of the café’s daily roasts. Coffee connoisseurs can imbibe a drip-brewed mug ($1.50–$2.25) or purchase fresh-roasted bean bags by the single pound ($12) or half pound ($6). Other energizers include cappuccino ($3.25–$4) and chai tea ($3.75–$4.50).
Selecting a wine at The Earle Restaurant isn't as simple as choosing between a red and a white. A recipient of Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence for 20-plus years, The Earle's wine list heaves under the weight of its more than 1,200 listed bottles and from all those bricks weighing it down. Some of those varietals are even available by the glass at The Earle's wine bar, where the menu of light bites includes handmade pizzas crowned with pesto and shrimp.
In the main dining room, wines likewise complement dinners of award-winning French and Italian cuisine, from linguini tossed with crumbled garlic sausage to sautéed duck breast in apple brandy and cider. Those feasts unfold amid the room's romantic lighting and the historic building's exposed brick walls. Once the home of a jazz club, the Earle now spotlights jazz five nights a week with trios on weekends and solo guitarists or pianists on select weekdays.
Few places can offer the same type of dish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Even fewer can do so while transporting your mind to Paris?but Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes does just that, charming guests and the New York Times with its impressive selection of crepes and its decor. Good Girls' rouge-red walls are decorated with oversized street maps and a Jean-Luc Godard film poster; its crepes are decorated with all manner of sweet and savory fixings.
Each crepe has a name, and true regulars will know just who to order. Vera, for example, contains a mix of bacon, boursin cheese, and spinach, whereas Pascalle holds fig jam and chevre, or goat cheese. Celeste is a little heartier, with roast beef and brie offsetting the tartness of cranberries. Every savory crepe is also available as a salad, or, if you simply unfold it, a very thin pizza.
As for the dessert crepes, they cover mixes of chocolate, fruits, and candies. The Cora hides strawberries and blueberries?a light contrast to the Tynysha's rich Heath bar, ricotta cheese, and chocolate filling. The simplest option, the Seine, delights with its classic flavors of butter and sugar.
Named Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press in 2002, Cuisine sears and sautés fine French-American delicacies in a modern milieu. Owner and Le Cordon Bleu graduate chef Paul Grosz draws on several years experience at high-end restaurants and billionaires-only diners around the globe to craft both deluxe progression and a la carte menus of specially prepared delicacies. Kick off a taste tour with the prepared meat charcutière of duck pâté, duck mousse, and beef sausage ($10) before quashing stomachs’ opera aspirations by muffling its baritone with a filet of beef tenderloin rossini seared with foie gras and potato cake ($33). The regionally raised Indiana duck arrives tuxedoed in an upscale assemblage of strawberries braised in red wine and buttered quinoa ($26). A tasty surprise dessert or cheese course ($9) concludes the feast with a shocking 11th-hour twist that leaves the door open for future meals.