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The Fondue! offers unique dining experience

Jessica Stoller | Monday, October 3, 2005

After visiting restaurant after restaurant, all eating establishments started to look the same. There was very little to differentiate one restaurant from another. If you have fallen into this restaurant rut as well, then The Fondue! is the place for you.

Located in the One Hundred Center off of Lincoln Way in Mishawaka, The Fondue! (formerly called the Fondue Parlor) is a small restaurant featuring different forms of … you guessed it, fondue. Though they have other meal options, fondue definitely seemed to be their main attraction. The Fondue! is nestled between two other restaurants in an old warehouse or factory setting.

The inside of the restaurant is composed of painted brick walls and mixed seating of booths and tables. Also, two levels are available for upstairs or downstairs dining in the noticeably dark restaurant. My friends and I were seated at a booth, and it is worth mentioning that it was quite possibly the most comfortable restaurant seating I have ever encountered. The seats were very cushiony.

The only unfavorable atmospheric element at The Fondue! was the odor of fried food and smoke that followed me out of the restaurant and remained on my clothes until laundry day. The total atmosphere score is about 4 out of 5 sporks.

The service at The Fondue! was a bit unpredictable at times. Though our waiter accomplished all wait tasks, the intervals between courses grew longer and longer, which inevitably caused a bit of frustration. Our particular waiter fruitlessly attempted to be humorous on several occasions, which did not endear him to us any more than his lack of punctuality. The waiter did, however, explain the fondue process to my friends and me in a very helpful and experienced way, which is necessary if you have no previous fondue skills. The service during our time at The Fondue! is worthy of 3 sporks.

The food at The Fondue! is more than just nourishment, but entertainment as well. With each fondue order, four courses are standard: an appetizer, a salad, a main course and dessert.

The first course is an amazingly delicious cheese fondue with white wine and garlic that comes with a variety of breads and apples to dip in the sauce. After this portion of the meal has been completed, a small but tasty salad is served (I recommend the tomato bacon dressing).

Next, the main course fondue is served. The menu exhibits many main course fondue choices, including chicken, scallops and shrimp, steak, vegetables or a combination of any of these. When the main course begins, two portable flames are ignited at the table, and pots of hot oil are placed on top. Meats and vegetables for dipping are served raw on plates and are to be cooked thoroughly in the hot oil with fondue forks. There are also about 6 dipping sauces served with which to eat the cooked food.

Not only is the food amazing, but it is also very entertaining to watch your friends lose their food in the fondue pots and use various techniques to retrieve the lost morsels. The dessert course involves a delectable chocolate sauce served with pieces of cake and fruit for dipping. The unique and extremely appetizing food at The Fondue! receives 5 sporks.

Though The Fondue! requires a substantial financial and time commitment (fondue meals range from $16 to $30 and take about two hours to complete), the experience is completely worth it. If you have fallen victim to frequent chain restaurant visits, give The Fondue! a try. It is a great alternative to campus food options and is sure to provide an unforgettable time with your friends.

Jessica “Spaghetti” Stoller is a student at Saint Mary’s College. She can be contacted at jstoll01@saintmarys.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.