Cue the melted cheese
The fall temperature drop finally allows for comfortable consumption of some of the yummiest hot foods – soups, roasts, and among others, my lifelong frenemy melted cheese in the form of fondue. I love fondue for oh so many reasons. First, it’s always a treat because mentally you’re saving up for it. It’s not like you can go and clog your arteries every week by consuming pounds (slight exaggeration) of liquified fat (also dramatic). Second, you get the best of every food group with les baigneuses (“the bathers”) ranging from meat, carbs, fruit, veggies and… hmm, what other food groups are there? Third, it’s a sharing meal so it involves of talking, which makes me doubly happy (just don’t wave the crazy long fork too much, you may have a victim).
Kashkaval – 856 9th Avenue (between 56th and 55th Streets)
This is a neighborhood gem of a restaurant for Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. A smorgasbord of European/Mediterranean/near Middle East menu offerings are served on teeny tiny tables or taken home to eat if they’re from the deli/olive bar/cheese shop that takes up the front half of the space. 9th Avenue may seem like a hike, but it is well worth it once you make it. The fondue here is simple and hearty and slightly off the beaten path. Have you ever eaten Kashkaval fondue? Did you know Kashkaval was a cheese? Because I didn’t until I ate here. Yup, it’s a Balkan yellow sheep’s milk cheese and it’s good.
Artisanal – 2 Park Avenue (at 32nd Street)
Along with the Artisanal Blend fondue and bread, apple, crudité and kielbasa baigneuses, we had a really good Malbec (2008 Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva from Mendoza, Argentina) that is actually quite affordable when not marked up on the wine list. I love the ambiance and interiors of this place – it conjures up an old European bistro with vintage posters, waiters in waistcoats and rattan/cane chairs. There can be a wait, but get a drink at the bar (cocktail list is pretty enticing) and you’re in for the long haul.
Photo source http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwny/
The Bourgeois Pig – Super cute little East Village place with a medieval/baroque/dark wood/velvet back room thing going on. The tables are small, mostly for two, so it’s a great little date place (or 3-person book club meeting, as it turns out, which is when I first went). The champagne cocktails are a treat, but full disclosure, I actually have yet to sample their fondue. When you walk in though the smell of the cheese is almost overwhelming, so I feel like I have! This makes the list via secondary source recommendations and I’ll make sure to report when I’ve had my chance to sample. Happy dipping!