The atmosphere of the restaurant seemlessly transports you into a Swiss folk tale with its lively music and troll masks. We felt as if we were inside a mountain cabin in Switzerland. We sat in a large, wooden booth that stretched around a large, circular table.
We had 7:00 reservations which were not really necessary for a Sunday night. The place was about ¼ full. We warmly greeted by the hostess and the server was very pleasant and pacing was good. The acoustic properties of the hardwood interior were a concern as the excitement and level of activity from our table could have disturbed some of those looking for a more romantic, quiet evening. This is one time when I wish the place had been full with lots of other conversation to mask our table sounds.
We opted for the recommendations of the waiter, the original Swiss cheese fondue, which was their mildest cheese fondue "The Original Fondue Valaisanne a blend of Swiss emmenthal and gruyere cheeses and the beef fondue Fondue Chinoise Thinly sliced beef and a boiling vegetable broth to cook. The hot oil beef fondue was discouraged for parties with any one under 10 due to the potential for major injury should it get knocked over.
Not being a fondue expert, I cannot judge how authentic the preparation was, but I can say we all very much loved it. The cheese had a strong bite to it and I cant imagine anyone with children wanting to get a stronger cheese. The beef came out slightly frozen in sliced fashion with a mild marbling. The boiling broth had mild seasonings of carrots, celery and onions. To cook the meat was supposed to take around 30 seconds in the broth but usually took around 3 to 4 minutes.
Served with both of these was a nice assortment of dipping items; bread cubes, pineapple, kiwi, olives, pearl onions, small sweet pickles, marinated artichoke hearts, and we also spent $4.00 more on a side of green apples. I order this mainly for the baby, although in hindsight, she enjoyed everything else fine there was no need for it. There were also 11 sauces in little dishes served with spoons provided that included creamy horseradish, honey mustard, Dijon mustard, apple preserves, berry preserves, a mildly spicy chipotle-like sauce and others. These proved to be nice compliments for the meat.
I enjoyed a nice sweet Riesling with the cheese dishes while the others opted for water or 7up.
As a finish, we had the chocolate fondue with assorted fruits such as strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, pears, apples and grapes along with a dark, semi-sweet chocolate sauce. As expected, nothing left to waste here.
The novelty of kids cooking and dipping for themselves was certainly a highlight and everything tasted great. My 8 year old enjoyed this visit more than last years, which may be due more to his 1 year older palate being more accepting of the gruyere cheese. The baby loved the steak and liked the baby sized cubes of items.
The social aspect of the meal is critical, and there is a bit of choreography required to make sure the removal of your dipping stick does not disturb those of others. The required interactive nature of the meal caused a bit of a problem as my wife an I were attempting to have a conversation on the side, but kept getting interrupted by the needs of the children. Our mistake, but not a problem, except for a short time.
I would recommend this for couples looking for a romantic experience of sharing food, but the ambience is not one of mood lighting. It is well lit and conversations are not muted. I imagine though it is authentic in décor and for the experience I would prefer the authenticity.
For families I really recommend it, if your kids like cheese beyond American or Colby. They have to be accepting of a cheese with a bite. The participatory nature of the experience is the appeal for kids; much like a Beni Hana Japanese steak house experience causes many children to select it for birthday dinners and such.
It is best suited for a small number of couples or friends, not exceeding 8 as they would have the best time.
We ended up with the perfect amount of food for the 4.5 of us, my oldest daughter had snacked earlier in the day and was full when we arrived, and the baby really eats around half of what a big person eats. We had beef for 2, cheese for 2 and dessert fondue for 3. I was grateful they did not attempt to charge us for 6 people, but do not know if they would so easily make such an accommodation for a future visit.
Total with tip $150.00. We will repeat, maybe not every year, but we will go back. We will also be visiting other fondue places back home as a result.