Melting Pot

So today is March 11th. Meaning that yesterday was March 10th. March 10th happens to be my birthday. I’ll give you a minute to catch up. I usually have trouble putting such facts together, explaining why I haven’t called either parent for a birthday in over two years.

So this year, oddly enough, when people asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I actually had answers for most of them. SD’s instructions were and arcanine plushie that came out recently, and tickets to The Lion King at the Kennedy Center. (A show I’ve always wanted to see, and that is coming to the area in June.) My sister went on a Caribbean Cruise, and while that would’ve been a nice birthday present in itself, I asked for some sort of odd object painted with a pretty picture to hang on the wall. (Akin to those saws with the turkey painted on them, only decidedly more ‘tropical’. Maybe a shell with a palm tree on it or something. I dunno, I’ve never been to the Caribbean. I left it open ended for just that reason, and maybe to annoy my sister slightly. I mean she’s going on a cruise, she should have to do some thinking…but I digress.)

To my mother, I requested a gift certificate to The Melting Pot. After years of birthdays with the birthday meal being at whatever normal restaurant (as opposed to fast food at least) I pick that I have been to any number of times, I decided I wanted to try something new, and slightly more expensive. It doesn’t hurt that this is the first year I’ve been in a situation where such a thing is affordable.

So I figure my birthday is as good a day as any to actually go and enjoy said meal, and I hop onto the handy Internets in order to find the nearest restaurant, which is actually pretty close, just in the opposite direction on the Rockville Pike as the rest of civilization. It is only then that I see you must make a reservation for said restaurant. Luckily that was easily done, even though a bit stressful trying to get through rush hour traffic to arrive on time.

We were taken to a cute little boothy table that over the course of the meal, SD and I analyzed for the setting and feel it created to great effect. First off, the booth had the table attached to one wall with the seat wrapping around behind it in one piece, as to not seperate a couple like in a traditional booth, or leave one side of the table completely unused. Plus it makes a good spot for the hotplate that is both out of the way of the diners, as well as easily accessible to the waiter. And speaking of waiter (or waitress in our case) they effectively stagger the waiter(ess)s such that the people on either side of you are being served by two different people, who are different from who is serving you, thus giving the feel that you have your own personal waiter(ess). Adding to that effect is the fact that there were high walls on either side of us, and though we could hear people talking, and see the steam from their pots, we were effectively cut off from them. The space beyond the booth had a dark carpet, and forest green wall that made the nearly five feet of space that actually existed between the booth and the wall seem much smaller, and thus the wall closer, and yet the wall behind us was a cream yellow that gave the impression of space, thus creating the feel of a close, private space that was not claustrophobic, that still had plenty of space for people to move by and do what needed to be done. Altogether it was well planned out and had the desired effect.

After the initial sticker shock from the menu (which I was expecting, but still…) we ordered the spinach and artichoke dip for our appetizer. The waitress came with her tray, poured some oil into the already heated pot, then scooped in some spinach, some artichokes, a little garlic, and a lot of cheese; stirred it all together, and we got our dip along with a bowl of vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, celery), apples (granny smith), and bread (pumpernickel, rye, salsa chips). The dip was excellent with everything, and we polished off the pot quite easily.

Next was the meats, with the basic vegetable oil to cook it all in, for which I picked the Pacific Rim? something Rim mix of meats. It came with chicken, pork, duck, beef, shrimp, and potstickers. There was also broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms and a vast array of sauces. The waitress explained about cooking the meats in the oil, and not touching anything that would be going into our mouths onto anything that even remotely looked like uncooked meat. I tried a little of everything, but found the oil added a taste that was not all that enjoyable to me. I stuck mostly to the chicken, pork, and shrimp. SD, and his love of sauces, highly enjoyed this phase. I also was unable to get the potatoes to cook enough to be enjoyable, but then potatoes are just like that.

But then after the meat phase was the dessert phase! There were so many good looking dips for dessert that it took me a while to decide among them. (They were also having some Girl Scout cookie flavored dips since it’s Girl Scout cookie season.) I finally decided on Cookies N Cream Marshmallow Dream. And out came a tray with strawberries and rice crispy treats, and brownies, and pound cake, and marshmallows, and cheesecake. And the waitress put in the chocolate, and the marshmallow and then set it on fire! I’ve never had anything that had been set on fire (on purpose anyway) and so that was the highlight of my evening. All in all, a thumbs up, but I don’t see myself going there again any time in the near future.

*This is also the reason I did not post a story section yesterday, nor do I plan to today. I’ll update on Thursday as normal.

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