Food groups get no greater than cheese and chocolate. Supervised pseudo-swordplay and fire at the dinner table can also be fun. Add it all up and it will be hard to resist the Melting Pot (608 Anacapa St., 845-4444,, set to open January 14. Part of a national chain of 138 restaurants specializing in fondue (the current closest location is Thousand Oaks), it makes dinnertime a hands-on (forks-on?) experience. Each table, even spots at the bar, includes a built-in hot plate on which a delicious mix of cheese, entree, or chocolate (which kicks off with flambee) can bubble. You grab your long fork, spear the bread, vegetable, lobster, prime rib, strawberry, etc. you desire, and coat or cook away. Waiters help you along, if you’re new to this originally Swiss dish. The specialty cocktails and 101 types of wine will help, too. While fondue can be family fun, this location also offers some special two-tops, not just a row of cozy booths they call Lovers’ Lane, but two other even more secluded booths called the Engagement Suite. Jeb Wilson, the Anacapa Street location’s owner and operator, explained, “Santa Barbara is pretty romantic and we’re trying to capitalize on that.” What lover wouldn’t melt for a pot of chocolate?


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