Saturday, April 6, 2013

My GF Melting Pot experience

I love the Melting Pot. We have gone there every year for my birthday (today) and our anniversary for over 10 years. I did my research and they have a gluten free menu and online I read that their staff was especially trained on GF. Even with online information, I called ahead to ask more and was assured they were GF friendly and they had a GF menu.

When we got there, I looked at the menu & asked the waiter a ton of questions. I told him that I couldn't have any gluten at all. My husband and I agreed on a cheese, chose our salads & agreed on a cooking style.

My husband got regular bread & a spoon to put the cheese on his bread so that he didn't contaminate the cheese. For me, they brought out GF bread cubes. Cool! The bread was still a pretty chilly from coming out of the freezer. I took a nibble of the bread plain & it had the texture of sand, which isn't uncommon for GF bread. (In my opinion) However smothered in cheese it was pretty good. Cheese makes everything better. I meant to take a photo of the cheese but it was almost gone by the time I remembered.  I did take a photo of the GF bread.  Mmmmm cheese! They used to use flour to thicken the cheese and you could request cornstarch for GF. Now they just use cornstarch as their standard thickener.

I ordered a spinach mushroom salad & it was very yummy. It had a spinach base with a ton of sliced baby portebella mushrooms & sautéed red onions. It had a tasty warm burgundy shallot vinaigrette.

For our main dish I ordered the Fondue Fusion meal with lobster & a variety of other meats. When the waiter brought out my plate, it had 2 large ravioli on it. I asked if it was GF pasta. Oops! It was not, so he took them off my plate. He did ask if I wanted a new plate, but the pasta wasn't touching anything else, so I said it was OK.

He then went on to describe the dipping sauces, which is the best part! The problem was he wasn't too sure what was GF. He thought that the cocktail sauce maybe had gluten, but everything else was ok. I told him the teriyaki sauce was not gluten free because most teriyaki was made with soy sauce, which is made with wheat. He was surprised & told me I had probably not eat the pile of sirloin on my plate because it had a teriyaki glaze. 2nd Oops! Again he offered to get me a fresh plate but it wasn't touching anything else & I didn't want to be a pain. My husband took the sirloin & because he is a very good CD husband, he waited until I was done cooking all of my food before he cooked it, so I didn't get "glutened". To make up for not being able to have the sirloin, the waiter did bring me 2 small pieces of filet mignon & two pieces shrimp to replace the pasta.

I stuck with the green goddess (my fav) and the Gorgonzola dipping sauces and hoped for the best. Later via Google, I learned that 4 of the 6 sauces were GF. Green Goddess, Gorgonzola, Curry & Plum. The sauces with gluten are the teriyaki & the cocktail sauce. 4 out of 6 isn't bad, but I was unhappy that our waiter didn't know more about what was safe. It's scary to just gamble on whether something will make me sick.

We ordered the 4 course meal but we were too full for dessert, so they gave us a dessert card to come back another time. I will review dessert when we go back.

I am happy they have a gluten free menu, but the staff really needs to be trained better. If I wasn't as informed as I am, I could have gotten very sick. They should know which sauces are GF & I certainly shouldn't have pasta and teriyaki glaze on my meat when I specifically order off of their gluten free menu.

I am disappointed and after being a dedicated visitor to the Melting Pot for over a decade, I am just not sure we will go back for dinner again. It's just not worth it to me to risk getting sick. For a $55 (per person) meal, I expect more. :-(

Update: after leaving this review on Yelp & emailing The Melting Pot, I received a phone call from our Portland Melting Pot. I spoke with Kelly and she told me that she spoke to the waiter and he said he DID know which sauces were GF, the cocktail sauce AND the teriyaki. Ummmmm no. That is not how it went down. I had to tell him the teriyaki sauce would have soy sauce in it, which is made with wheat. He did not know that. I don't want to get the waiter in trouble but obviously he is playing CYA (cover your ass)

She apologized for the pasta on my plate and said that should have never happened. When it came to the teriyaki sirloin, she said that it was printed on the menu to ask for a substitution. Ok, honestly I didn't see that. However, when you hand me a menu that is specifically a "Gluten Free Menu" I am going to assume everything on it is safe. What is the point of claiming to have a gluten free menu if it's not really gluten free & it's up to me to catch the gluten products & ask for substitutions? Also, if the staff has gluten free training, shouldn't our waiter have known that & pointed that out to me?

Kelly assured me that the staff, our waiter specifically, would go through their gluten free training again. That's great & hopefully it will make a difference for the next person, but sadly I will not be going back for dinner. Also, honestly when Kelly spoke to me, I felt like she was placing the blame on me. I should have caught the changes on the menu & the waiter contradicted my story. My husband was right there with me & when our waiter walked away, we even discussed that we were surprised he didn't know that. Yes, obviously I should have seen that you need to ask for a substitution, but why not just give me a regular menu that said the same thing? Why give me a dedicated gluten free menu if it isn't actually gluten free?

*****update 6/2013

We went back to use our dessert gift card. We had a better experience for sure. I was very very clear to our server that I needed to be gluten free. We like to get the turtle with dark chocolate. It is a chocolate/caramel dessert that the they flambé.

My husband is not gluten free, and yes, his platter looked much better than mine, but you kind of get used to that when you have Celiac. You just don't have as many options. 

My husband's platter 

My platter: They did say I could get as many dippers as I wanted. 

But you know what, smothered in chocolate it is all delicious! Be sure to use a spoon for the gluten items so you don't risk cross contamination. 

Overall we had a very good date night this time at Melting Pot. So basically, IF you go to the Melting Pot, you need to be on the ball. You can't count on the staff to keep you safe. You need to take control. The plus side is I get sick easily from cross contamination and I didn't get sick here either time, even with the massive mistakes. Happy fondueing! 

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