Eating fondue may sound old-school, like something your parents did in the 70s or a throwback to the 80s and 90s when the Melting Pot opened franchises all over the country and it became the coolest place to eat when you were in high school. But fondue is no longer old-school. It’s enjoying a revival and a bunch of D.C. restaurants are bringing the melted cheese (or chocolate!) dish back. I’m as enamored with fondue as I was in high school and hoping it stays in style. For a Valentine’s Day date that is actually pretty romantic (what screams romance more than sitting side by side and dipping hunks of bread in a pot of melted cheese?) visit one of these fondue-serving D.C. spots, all of which are offering unique experiences. And if you hate Valentine’s Day, well, there is no better place to drown your sorrows than in melted cheese.
The Most Authentic Cheese Fondue
Stable, 1324 H St. NE
Fondue originated in Switzerland and it is still a very popular dish in its home country. In D.C., we have only one Swiss restaurant, Stable, and it serves a fondue that perfectly represents the country. Their traditional fondue is a trifecta of Swiss cheeses, Schlossberger Old, Schlossberger Young and Vacherin cheeses. It is cooked with garlic and white wine and served with white bread for dipping. It’s nutty, tart and delicious.
Stable now has two additional fondues on the menu. The belper knolle, a garlic and black pepper fondue, has a bit of spice in its flavor and the pear which has Pear Williams stirred into the hot cheese, giving it an extra-heady element. My favorite is the classic. Swirling your bread in the gooey cheese, while seated in the chalet-like restaurant feels like visiting Switzerland even though all you had to do was take an uber to get there. Their fondues serve two and cost $27-30.
The Best International Cheese Fondues
BLT Steak, 1625 I St. NW
This winter, BLT Steak is serving three different kinds of fondue, inspired by the cheeses of three different countries. There is the French fondue with nutty comte and gruyere cheese and white wine, Italian fondue with creamy, musky Taleggio and prosecco, and finally American, with classic cheddar, mustard and ale. You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices. I mean, its melted cheese. It’s all good. Choose from veggie or meat boards for dipping. Cost ranges from $40-65.
The Best Overall Fondue Which Happens to be Vegan
Fancy Radish, 600 H St. NE
I am obsessed with the fondue at the Fancy Radish. I am not the only one. Somehow, the genius chefs of this restaurant have managed to turn rutabagas into the creamiest, most velvety, tangy fondue I have ever had. It is warm and silky and perfect. It comes with pretzel bread that has just the right amount of salt and a small bowl of pickled veggies. It is available for $14.
The Best Chocolate Fondue
Blue Duck Tavern, 2400 M St. NW
At Blue Duck Tavern’s Fire Garden, you can cozy up on one of their fireside couches under a blanket with your boo, all while swirling fresh raisin bread and strawberries in sinfully rich melted dark chocolate. It’s as sweet as it sounds. One pot serves two and costs $25.
The Best Fondue to Eat if You Want to do the Least Amount of Work
Dino’s Grotto, 1914 9th St. NW
Dino’s in Shaw is a cozy Italian restaurant, and it is currently featuring a black truffle fonduta on its menu. Instead of dipping items into a pot of melted cheese, the fondue at Dino’s comes spooned over two hunks of white bread, topped with thick flakes of black truffle. It is rich and decadent and earthy. There is no labor of dipping and swirling, you just shove the hunk of cheese covered grilled bread in your mouth. Enjoy it for $9.
The Best Goat Cheese Fondue
The Fainting Goat, 1330 U St. NW
This fondue has actually been on the Fainting Goat’s menu for years, and for good reason. The cheese is melted in its own small skillet and served with hunks of dough grilled bread. It’s simple, with an emphasis on the zesty flavor of goat cheese. It’s $13 and I get it every time I go.
The Best Choose-Your-Own-Flavors Fondue
The Melting Pot, 1110 N. Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA
If you want to eat fondue the American way, full of options for customization, the Melting Pot is the fondue spot for you. There are half a dozen choices for cheese fondue, including a Wisconsin cheese fondue and a spinach and artichoke fondue. Dipping items range from bread to fruit to veggies. Insider tip: the fiesta fondue also comes with tortilla chips. The Melting Pot also serves fondue as a main course, where you choose veggies or meat to be cooked in oil or broth. And then there is the chocolate fondue. S’more, with marshmallow fluff is swirled into your dark chocolate, milk chocolate with caramel, black and white, with dark and white chocolate, and more. Another inside tip: dessert dippers are bottomless, so keep stuffing yourself with the rice krispy treats, brownies, pound cake, cheesecake, and fruit. And now I am drooling. Cheese fondues are about $11 a person.