Looking to unwind with something decadent and help the stress of the week melt away? Melting Pot Social, or “MeltSo” is Asheville’s new place to do so without breaking the bank. Even in its laid-back atmosphere, can you think of a more romantic form of food than crudites and bread bites dipped into gooey, velvety melted cheese? We didn’t think so…
Melting Pot Social Melted Our Workweek Stress Away!
Besides its well-known nickname, (you know what I’m talking about) Wednesdays can be a bit boring. At AVL Date Night, we believe there’s nothing better to shake up a Monday thru Friday work schedule than with a midweek date night with the sweetie (or a new love interest). Enter MeltSo. A casual, approachable fondue experience in the heart of downtown. Melting Pot Social came to Asheville, its very first location, after 5 yrs of concept experimenting, and the work paid off because THIS date night is a home run for any cheese lover (or their non-dairy companion)!
LET’S START WITH ATMOSPHERE
Greeted with open hangar doors, funky pop murals, and warm neons, the space felt inviting before we even stepped in. We loved the variety of seating choices we were given: to people watch on stools against the outside counter, tables near the front to enjoy summer’s golden hour, belly up to the buzzing wraparound bar, or cozy up at moodier lit tables in the back. It being a date night, we opted to sit in the back near the new mural addition of golden dripping cheese “raindrops” over a painted umbrella with a real handle that made a fun “AVL” Instagram post. We indulged in the photo op, of course…how else would everyone know we were out painting the town?
BUT FIRST, DRINKS!
A crucial part of our unwinding process involves cocktails. So before we even glanced at the menu, (at this point we didn’t even KNOW what joys awaited us) we asked for a drink menu, all of which was already conveniently at our table. Our server came over and gave us drink recommendations based on what we liked, so we landed on the Smoked Old Fashion & Blackberry Lavender Shrub. After hearing the word “smoked” I headed to the bar to watch the magic happen. The bartender, or shall I say “potions master” infused a small carafe with smoke, corked it, and transported it to the bar so that I was able to behold the cloud swirl out of its container and over my glass. Almost as satisfying as drinking it!
THE GREAT DILEMMA: WHAT TO ORDER?
As we sipped and contemplated menu items like Sticky ribs with gochujang, toasted sesame seeds, and scallions, and the Raclette burger which features pickle fries, MeltSO sauce, and melted-to-order aged Raclette, we were surprised by a tableside visitor. MeltSo says “connections are what we do best,” but we had no idea that that meant, we would enjoy the privilege of speaking with the chef as much passionate length as we did. Once he knew our preferences and allergies, which are “none and none,” it was during that conversation that he mapped out a meal plan for us. Great decisions were made.
PERMISSION TO PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
First, chef Tim encouraged us to dip into one of their cheese fondue chef creations: The Spinach Artichoke with Butterkäse and fontina cheeses, fresh spinach, garlic, artichoke hearts, Parmesan, and Tabasco. For the price, we were thrilled to find out that the perfectly sized Croque of melted glory came out with included dippers of Pretzel Bread, Sourdough, Roasted Potatoes, Cornichons, and Baby Tomatoes. To it, we added zucchini & apples, and the chef surprised us with a few additional artichoke hearts for a full-on deconstructed artichoke dip.
Skipping utensils, my date and I began delicately dipping pieces into the warm, nutty, pooled cheese….but by the third dipper, we were dunking and swirling and scraping at the small bowl enjoying each next bite more than the last. Playing with your food was indeed something we didn’t even realize we needed that Wednesday…We felt like kids on a pretend grown-up date.
Though the bowl and plate didn’t last as long as we hoped it would (and it was great for sharing), we were thrilled to know that it meant we would next be enjoying our shared main course: Buttermilk Chicken & Waffle.
TIME FOR THE MAIN EVENT
What came out next looked just plain tasty, but it quickly skyrocketed to drool-inducing as soon as the server drizzled the tabasco honey on top of the scallion sweet cream and homemade panko tenders…It was pure food porn watching the syrup drip from all sides of the chicken pooling on the plate and into waffle craters.
Now we love chicken and waffles and would consider ourselves self-crowned conossueires on the subject. When we say “next level” we want you to know why…First off, the chicken. The definition of “keeping it simple” is these 4 ingredient tenders. Light panko crust means they are thin and quick in the fryer leaving them juicy and tender, with just the right crunch. Pair that with a waffle made with pearl sugar delicately drenched in tabasco honey and you have southern fireworks in your mouth! We guess we’ve never had a pearl sugar waffle because the texture and marshmallow-like sweetness was like no waffle we’ve tried before. This particular sugar takes higher temperatures to melt, leaving its grains intact which creates a nice bite and chew to it.
We’re embarrassed that our 2nd dish was in fact gone much quicker than the first. But alas, the best date nights end in something sweet so we were eased knowing we had one last course to go and that it was sure to be just as decadent…
Last, but certainly not least, we decided to cap this excellent evening off with one of MeltSo’s classic chocolate fondues: S’mores! A caramel flambé toasted the Creamy milk chocolate, marshmallow creme, and graham cracker to produce a time-traveling transporter back to childhood campouts. We quickly grabbed a skewer and toasted the included marshmallows over the tableside fire. This wasn’t just food, this was memory-making! The wits we had after dinner to add extra dippers of macarons, bananas, and, of COURSE, additional pearl waffles to compliment the included Strawberries, Marshmallows, and Pound Cake, and fruity pebble rice crispy Treats were now completely out the window. We felt like the kids at Charlie’s Chocolate Factory eating the garden and edible displays. If it was edible, and at the table, it was getting dipped in the s’more-licious chocolate.
WAIT, THERE’S S’MORE?
If you’re anything like us, MeltSo’s friendly and casual atmosphere and happy-dance-inducing flavors will have you planning your next visit while you’re still dining at the table, and there’s plenty to return for… For starters, we downloaded the App that gives us deals & discounts the more we return.
Next, they have a happy hour! Even though we thought their pricing is already a great deal for the value, during MeltSO Social Hours (Mon-Fri 4-6) you, your dates, or friends can enjoy ½ off shareable cheese and chocolate fondue if seated at the bar! If music is your thing, check out Karaoke Friday Nights, or the local live talent on Saturday Nights. You can also have a Sunday Funday at MeltSo with their brunch (and YES! The Chicken and waffles made the brunch menu!).
MORAL OF THIS STORY
If you’ve never had the privilege of having fondue, RUN, don’t walk, to MeltSo as fast as you can. My date and I grew up with a much more formal (and expensive) fondue restaurant (you may be familiar with it) and though we have nothing but fond memories of special celebrations there, this is something completely new and fresh, (and easier on the wallet, too) while not skimping on an ounce on any of the flavor, or comfort its more expensive big brother provides. So fonDO yourself a flavor and put this on top of your AVL date night list! We’ll be seeing you there!