A darling of the seventies, fondue calls to mind mod vintage kitchenware in avocado and orange hues, but its revival is well underway. This DIY meal brings together the happy pairing of the utmost comfort foods: carbs and melted cheese or chocolate. It also brings the family together like no other meal, with skewers around a communal pot. Not sure you want the little ones leaning in to share from a cauldron of hot goo in your own home? There are plenty of NYC spots that can show you how it’s done.
photo: via Kashkaval Garden Facebook page
The snug Kashkaval began as a cheese store so it’s no surprise it has become a premiere fondue destination. Kids are welcome here and the restaurant has just opened a second room. Kashkaval is Bulgarian and while not a tradition of the region, the cheese fondue taps into its Mediterranean feel. There are several different cheese fondue blends to choose from and staff are tight lipped about their recipes. There’s currently a seasonal cheddar and cider fondue on offer and the chef is open to testing out new cheeses to see what works. You’ll get a sliced baguette to dip or you can pick a plate of fruit and veg or meat.
852 9th Ave.
Upper West Side
photo: via Max Brenner Facebook page
Your little one will feel like a candy king or queen with a trip to this chocolatey realm on Broadway. Max Brenner takes the guilt out of chocolate and offers kids the opportunity to get unapologetically messy with it. The fondue is no exception – dubbed the Fondue Tower, you will be presented with a bowl of sponge cake, marshmallows, cookies, berries and bananas to dip into stacked pots of melted dark, milk or white chocolate. You can pick a warm toffee sauce if chocolate isn’t your thing. But really? Do not expect to get out of here without evidence of indulgence all over your face.
photo: Murray’s Cheese Facebook page
Murray’s Cheese Bar
Murray’s isn’t set up with high chairs or a kids menu but they do offer a mean fondue and are happy to share their cheese passion with the younger generations. It’s a small space next to their cheese store and it can get fairly loud and crowded so getting a table soon after they open at 11 a.m. on the weekends would work best with little ones. The sliders and mac and cheese come recommended and the fondue is alpine style with nutmeg. Also on offer is fondue’s equally indulgent cousin, raclette, where melted cheese is scraped directly onto your plate to accompany your meal.
264 Bleecker St.
This small neighborhood restaurant promises affordable riffs on the french bistro experience. Cheese fondue is offered here every Tuesday and is available by request with 24 hours notice. Chef and owner, Jake Eberle, says kids love the interactive experience of the fondue and adds that, when he was growing up, the forfeit for losing the food on the end of your skewer was to kiss the person on your left. He doesn’t insist on this at Le Fond! The veggie option includes bread, fingerling potatoes, green apples and crispy roasted brussels sprouts at $18 per head. The cheese is a gruyere blend made in house and you can add steak to the menu for an extra $6. As luck would have it, wine is half price by the bottle on Tuesdays.
105 Norman Ave.
photo: via The Melting Pot on Yelp
Upstate and Long Island
The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot is a national chain with more than one hundred stores nationwide. Causal and cosy, staff here are fondue pros and they offer cheese, meat and chocolate options. The Wisconsin cheddar mix with beer and mustard is the most popular with young families but there are five other blends to choose from including the classic Alpine with swiss cheese, garlic, wine and nutmeg. Dip bread, veggies and slices of apple. The meat fondue can be cooked by the guest or the server. For dessert, choose between a dark, milk, or white chocolate fondue with fruit and cake to dip. They’ll also throw in pecans and marshmallows to the chocolate blend for the ultimate in indulgence. For a party with a difference, kids celebration packages are on offer, starting at $29.95 per head.
30 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, Ny
2377 Broadhollow Rd.
photo: Joe via Flickr
If the idea of fondue appeals but arming your kids with skewers in public makes you nervous, you can always try it at home. Put a fondue set on your holiday list or put one under the tree for the family. You can pick them up at Target starting at $25 and cast iron ones at Crate and Barrel are no more than $40.
You can buy heat-and-serve packets of cheese mix or a classic recipe would be to heat 1 2/3 cup of dry white wine in a saucepan. When it starts to boil, add 1 1/2lb of shredded Gruyere with a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour. Stir continuously for five minutes and when it’s melted pour it into a fondue pot over a gentle heat source. Cut up some bite-sized ingredients for dipping. It’s possible the kids will be so excited they won’t even notice they’re eating their veggies.
Where does your family get its fondue fix? Let us know in the comments below.
— Emily Myers