Even though I have had many a culinary experience, none could possibly compare to my first outing to La Fondue. This five-star restaurant took my heart (well, my arteries really).
When my best friend, Meg, invited me with her family to La Fondue, I had some inkling of what to expect. A close family friend (named Glen) had informed me thoroughly of the ins and outs of the eatery. Delicious appetizers, wonderful cheese fondue, and a luscious dessert.
However, there was one bit of advice that surprised me.
“Do not eat the salad,” Glen insisted.
In fact, he managed to fit this phrase in with every mention of La Fondue – which was frequent.
“If you eat the salad, you will not have room for the rest of the courses, which are well worth the wait.” I seriously doubted that a salad could ruin an entire meal. A tiny palate of mixed greens could not possibly do much harm.
I entered La Fondue with an empty stomach and high expectations. Yet new places will always manage to surprise, as La Fondue did for me.
Take, for example, the environment. It was a mixture of modern and medieval art—an odd concept but very fascinating, which only added to the charm. The waiter sat us down in a booth in a dark room of the restaurant (exceptionally dark; the dim candlelight was barely enough for you to see the faces of the people sitting right next to you). Each table – including our own – had one or two electric, flat-top stove burners installed into the table surface.
After Meg’s parents decided what to eat, the waiter came and promptly created a cheese fondue – right in front of our eyes – on one of the burners. He provided us with an assortment of items to dip in the fondue – bread cubes, broccoli, tomatoes, more cheese, and so much more – then left us to our own devices.
I could have made a meal out of that single course. I almost did: it was magnificent. I could have dipped candy in that cheese and it still would have tasted great. Despite the fact that we were only 30 minutes into the meal, I stuffed myself until my belt was tight. I felt so very happy and could not wait for the next plate full of glorious food.
Then the waiter brought us our salads.
“This isn’t a salad,” I thought to myself.
They sure didn’t look like salads. It looked like the chef had poured a salad bar onto each of our plates, excepting the lettuce. I couldn’t help but want to eat this intriguing “salad.” The four varieties of dressing sat awaiting us on the table. I could almost audibly hear Glen yell at me.
“Don’t eat the salad.”
I reached for the Italian Lemon vinaigrette.
“Don’t eat the salad.”
I grasped my fork.
“Don’t eat the salad…”
I ate the salad. The entire thing. I couldn’t help myself.
Turns out, it really was a salad; it took some digging, but I eventually found the lettuce completely buried underneath the mounds of other ingredients. Believe me, at the moment, I did not regret eating that salad one bit. It was the greatest salad I had ever had. The mish-mash of random components (shredded carrots, feta cheese, olives, capers, tomatoes, broccoli, and the hidden lettuce all smothered in that lemon vinaigrette) melded together in yumminess.
Then I remembered.
Oh… jeez. I still have two courses and supposedly over an hour and a half to go. And I am completely full.
I’d already had to loosen my belt; I should probably lay off the food for a bit.
“You should have listened to me!” whispered the figment Glen in my mind.
I came to this restaurant to get the full experience (pun intended), and I wasn’t going to stop now. I wasn’t going to allow Glen to win. He could not disgrace that wonderful salad.
When the main course came, I was determined. I was going to prove Glen wrong. I ate all that I could, and in the end that wasn’t very difficult at all because the main course was magical. We cooked bite-size slices of raw, organic, expertly marinated meat ourselves on a mini grill or deep-fryer and then dipped them in our choice of 5 different sauces.
It was almost humorous how good everything tasted. I was positive that I burnt a couple of pieces of meat, and yet each one was just as tender and moist as the other. And yet, despite the amazing taste, each bite put a new strain on my stomach. I slumped in my seat, trying to ease the weight on my tummy, while constantly shoving more food down my gullet.
The main course definitely took a toll on me. My stomach was full to bursting (my jeans weren’t having the best time either), but the serotonin in my brain was going haywire, making me ludicrously happy.
As I sat wallowing in delirium, Glen’s voice came wafting into my mind: “I told you so,” he said snidely.
No. I had to keep fighting. Glen must not win. I knew what was coming, and I knew what I had to do.
Like every girl’s dream guy, dessert was sweet, smooth, and rich. I ate what was put in front of me (chocolate fondue with all its adornments) without question or complaint. I dipped cream puffs, pretzels, nuts, marshmallows, more chocolate, fruit, everything. I ate.
I ate until I could not fit one last bite into my mouth without exploding.
Victory! I had done it! I had proven Glen wrong, ha! Take that!
In three and a half hours, I had eaten the entire meal and the salad. Triumph, like the fondue, was so sweet.
Nothing could lessen the euphoria of my victory. Though the walk to the car was quite painful, as was the drive home, I entered my house as conqueror.
My family couldn’t help but watch with admiration as I took off my belt and flopped face down on the middle of our living room floor for a half an hour while I digested my food.
All I could keep saying was “Glen was wrong! You have to eat the salad!”
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