If Old Man Winter were to pick his perfect plus-one, he would surely choose fondue — the ideal partner for cold, snowy days and nights – not to mention #ValenDinesDay. Order fondue and you’ve got a sexy dish to share with a date — or a fun-loving dunking dish for a group of friends, who gather to twirl their fondue forks, speared with a chunk of crunchy baguette, into a swirl of Gruyere cheese. Or, a ripe strawberry chunk into a bubbling gooey pit of semi-sweet chocolate. Here are seven restaurants for fondue — some so traditional you can practically hear yodeling, others more extravagant for experimental fonduers.
Fondue with a view — of the Wasatch Mountains. You have a choice: The Rocky Mountain Fondue, with smoked local Gold Creek cheddar, Gruyere, and fontina, served with marbled potatoes, freshly baked bread, apples, pears, and grapes. Or go with the chocolate fondue, a sinful combo of cherry Kirschwasser and semi-sweet chocolate that comes with cashew brittle, strawberries, pineapple, and cubes of housemade pound cake. Make a reservation at Lookout Cabin.
Swiss Chalet, Vail, Colorado
Luxe it up and order the Champagne fondue, an alpler fondue blend with Champagne and black Périgord truffles served with a baguette. Meat lovers can opt for the fondue Bourguignonne — a boiling pot of oil with beef tenderloin that’s served with potatoes, winter veggies, and dipping sauces. Cheese lovers will be lured by the alpler fondue mit krauter — imported Swiss cheese with white wine, Kirschwasser, garlic, and fresh herbs — that’s accompanied by potatoes, winter vegs, and baguette. Make a reservation at Swiss Chalet.
Murray’s Cheese Bar, New York, New York
This popular West Village shop is Manhattan’s favorite cheese market (it dates back to 1940) where in-the-know New Yorkers go to buy a chunk of Murray’s Stilton or Cavemaster Reserve Annelies. And it also serves The Fondue in the shop’s lively adjoining restaurant. It’s a simple wintertime treat, but there’s nothing pedestrian about it — order the Alpine-style cheese with Chablis and nutmeg. The fondue’s sidekick: a toasted country loaf from Pain D’Avignon. Make a reservation at Murray’s Cheese Bar.
La Fondue, Saratoga, California
Fondue here is an experience, not a meal. There are more than 50 fondues served tableside — including thos with exotic meats like kangaroo, alligator, antelope, and wild boar. Or, sea scallops, lobster tails, and black tiger shrimp. Grab friends and order Le Freak for $325, and you’ll get a taste of “everything we offer.” The restaurant sports four separate themed dining rooms and five cooking methods for your fondue — such as punsch (spiced red wine with cloves and rosemary). Make a reservation at La Fondue.
Sugar Factory, Miami Beach, Florida
The pricey chocolate gold premium fondue is an extravagant dessert fondue that serves six and requires a 24-hour notice to prepare. It’s made with gold-coated chocolate truffle, melted tableside, and served with gold chocolate nuggets, gold and chocolate truffles, gold-dusted gummi bears, and chocolate gold-studded strawberries. Bonus: A bottle of Dom Pérignon and a glass of Hardy Noces d’Or Cognac, plus a gift bag with handcrafted chocolates, macaroons, and a two-pound chocolate bar. Price: $1,000. Make a reservation at Sugar Factory.
The Ram, Sun Valley, Idaho
Is there anything better in winter than an après-ski fondue? Schuss the slopes, then linger over The Ram fondue for two, created with Emmentaler, Gruyere, Kirsch, and white wine, the warm fondue is served with a baguette, tangy cornichons, and potatoes. Bonus: Add on winter veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms), a Basque sausage, or tender tenderloin to dip into the cheesy goodness. Make a reservation at The Ram Restaurant.
Demarchelier, New York, New York
France meets NYC at this family-owned Upper East Side French bistro — a perfect spot for a rendezvous to swirl dainty fondue forks into a classic fondue that would make any Swiss proud. Order the cheese fondue (a blend of Comte, Gruyere, and Emmentaler cheeses) with a fresh baguette, and pair your fondue with one of the many French wines poured here. Make a reservation at Demarchelier.
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Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.
Photo credits: Kevin Syms (The Ram); video shot at Murray’s Cheese Bar.