The Melting Pot: Share the Goodness (But bring exact change!)

October 16, 2009

Last night I got together with a few girls for a little cheese and chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot.  (Really, what more could a girl ask for – cheese AND chocolate … all melty and yum?  To quote The Zoe, “I die.”)

Apparently, as a way to support breast cancer awareness month, The Melting Pot is hosting “Ladies’ Night Out” every Thursday in October with Mary Kay.  (Not the most original name, but it’s for a good cause, so I can overlook it … and yowzers, what a deal …)  For $19, we each got a salad, shared cheese and chocolate fondues, and ordered $5 martinis.  Plus, since $1 from each of our meals will be donated to breast cancer research, it rids you of any guilt associated with consuming massive amounts of the hot gooey goodness.

I had been to TMP locations in Washington, D.C. and Florida, but this was my first visit to the longstanding Montgomery Rd. location.   For a “special occasion” restaurant, it is oddly situated in a strip of businesses, but once I stepped inside, I recognized the signature dimly lit restaurant with its dark woods and cozily enclosed booths with built-in hot plates.

One of the things I enjoy about TMP is that they make an experience out of the meal.  There are few things I hate more than being rushed through a meal, and by design, at TMP, you are encouraged to linger through several courses – perfect for a girl’s night out.

Between the five of us, we enjoyed two types of cheese fondues – the seasonal blend with white wine, garlic and mustard seeds, and the Wisconsin Trio of three cheeses – with an assortment of items for dipping, including a variety of bread cubes, vegetables, granny smith apples, and pickles. The Wisconsin Trio was particularly good (especially if you enjoy blue cheese). After the cheese course came salads, which after the rich, decadent cheese, was a nice light palate cleanser. I was a touch disappointed by how sparse the gorgonzola and walnuts were in my California salad, (I know, I wanted MORE cheese??) but the raspberry vinaigrette was delightful. No one really raved over the salads, but how can a salad compare to cheese and chocolate? It’s like something you have to eat to make yourself feel better about the other indulgences.

The finale was the chocolate course, and we chose the yin / yang mix of white and dark chocolates in a single bowl. The dipping items alone were a feast for the eyes, and included cheesecake, pound cake, strawberries, bananas, brownie bites, marshmallows covered in graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows covered in Oreo crumbs, and rice krispy treats. I came close to really embarrassing myself with this course, and had to hold back to keep some semblance of couth and etiquette. We actually used up all the melted chocolate before all the dipping items were used. But really … it was probably for the best.

While the food made for a fun night with the girls, I was weirdly a little annoyed with the server at the end of the meal. (You tell me if this is justified …) I either usually don’t need change when paying a bill, or I pay with a card, but this time, my bill was $20.24 (I bought my martinis at the bar while we were waiting.), and I only had twenties … so obviously I was going to need change. The waitress made a big deal about how even though it was a discount night, and she separated the checks, and there were five of us, she didn’t add in gratuity, and that she trusts that her customers will “do the right thing.” So, whatever … she was sweet … she did a good job, and I’m a standard 20% or more tipper.

So when she brought back my change, she gave me nine singles – but none of the actual loose change … Where was my 76 cents? Another girl at the table that needed change from her cash received the same treatment – no coinage. I mean, I’m not so cheap that I’m going to complain over three quarters and a penny, but I really feel like it’s the principle of the matter. (Plus, it’s not like the change was seven cents … it was almost a dollar …)

Is this common practice that I’m just not aware of? Annoying … and unfortunately, soured the experience for me just a touch.

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3 Responses to “The Melting Pot: Share the Goodness (But bring exact change!)”

  1. Maria Says:

    That is super annoying. I always think it is rude for someone to 1)imply you may not tip them well and 2)not give you correct change. I’ve had this happen and it is bad manners and definitely not customary!

  2. Tina Says:

    You know another place I’ve been to that does this is Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. The waiters there routinely keep the coinage.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    It’s so funny you mention that – I have been to Cafe Du Monde a handful of times, and you’re right, their surly wait staff do always seem to be put out when you ask for change. (Really – what do they expect at a place that accepts only cash?) Usually though I’m on such a sugar high from inhaling a mountain of powdered sugar-topped beignets and a bucket-sized cup of cafe au lait that I can hardly be bothered to care. Thanks for the comment!

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