Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Mess with Two Hungry Girls on a Mission

Artisinal Bistro – Cheese Fondue
Artisanal Bistro

Our self-inflicted Food Network tour was almost over before it began.

Dying of starvation after our morning of fasting, we arrive at our first tour stop, Artisinal Bistro, to try Rocco DiSpirito’s favorite CHEESY creation: cheese fondue.  As Rocco had specified, we order a variety of dipping items: crudités (which neither of us believe is actually a word; why not just say “vegetables”?), apples, and kielbasa (Vodka Stinger, being of Polish heritage, knows her way around a garlic sausage).  And we wait.

And wait.
Still Waiting
And continue to wait.  Nary a complimentary bread basket to our name, we wait a half hour.  Neither of us being fondue connoisseurs, we figure fondue must take an extraordinary amount of time to make....  All that microwaving of cheese or whatever they do – it could take eons.

Until we see a table that has blatantly arrived after us receive their own fondue.  Then we know something is up.

We flag down our frazzled nitwit of a waiter to inquire about the delay, and he tells us that the kitchen is “very behind today.”  Okay, buddy.

This tour might not have been the Best Idea We Ever Had.

Fifteen additional minutes pass, and we are on the brink of collapsing from a deadly combination of starvation and fury, not to mention we are now decidedly behind on the itinerary.  Vodka Stinger, hailing from the wilds of New Jersey and thus not being one to let things slide, is out for the kill.  When Ginger Orchid spots a pleasant-looking fellow in a suit wandering about, Vodka Stinger gestures him over, confirms that he is indeed the manager, and begins to tattletale.

Having done a good deal of such tattletaling over the years due to inept service, Vodka Stinger knows that the key to getting things done is to remain calm, explain the situation descriptively, and use the words “disappointing” and “embarrassing” a lot (subjective terms, they’re hard for the other party to combat).  The manager listens attentively before running to the kitchen to see what's up.
At Last
And lo and behold, as if descended from the high heavens, a steaming caldron of cheese appears before us from the suddenly not “very behind today” kitchen.  It is accompanied by crudités, apples, complimentary bread bits (finally), and some limp-looking meat that we are told is called “air-dried beef.”

No kielbasa.

Not Kielbasa
We get the manager’s attention again, ask for our missing Polish delicacy, and it, too, appears, along with a promise that “Needless to say, your brunch is on us.”

This is the Best Tour Ever.
Cheesy Goodness
The fondue is all that Rocco promised, and the mystery meat that is the non-ordered air-dried beef is the best dipper of all. The cheese is gooey yet easy to maneuver, the perfect melted consistency.  We skewer the hell out of that cheese until there is nothing but a filmy residue of past deliciousness along the sides.
Good to the Last Drop
Feeling like convicts leaving our empty plates behind with no check in sight, we debate how much cash to leave for tip for entirely too long before stealing out of the restaurant with a combination of self-assured glee and Mission Impossible-like guilt.

On our way out, we thank the manager profusely; our waiter is no where in sight.

And our tour, which began “disappointing”  and “embarrassing,” is now squarely back on track.

Artisanal Bistro’s Cheese Fondue: 4 stars


  1. I would some clarification on your rating system. Do we give half stars?

  2. We rate from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the Best Things We Ever Ate. We do not give half-stars. Thanks for reading!