If you go to Tamarack, Idaho, you’ll love the skiing (I did, which you can read on my travel blog) or the golf, rafting, fishing and other activities on the Lake Cascade. But don’t sign up for fondue night. Set in the high-ceilinged Grange function room, the atmosphere is meeting-and-convention, not fondue-and-raclette. But I’ve had really good fondue in a sparsely decorated, modern restaurant in a shopping and dining mall in St. Mortiz-Bad, Switzerland, so it’s not the atmosphere that’s a problem.
Rather than sitting around a table chatting while waiting for a burbling fondue pot to be set in front of guests, this dinner was set up bufffet-style — odd because the Grange’s round tables really lend themselves to traditional fondue. Everyone got in line, cafeteria-style, picked up a large dinner plate, and moved slowly along the table.
First you come to an assortment of very cold vegetables — steamed and then refrigerated broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and more. Next, you get to three baskets of bread cubes. Then, you reach three catering-service-style stainless steel chafing dishes with a trio of fondue flavors: plain cheese, garlic cheese and pepper cheese. Next is a bowl filled with unappealing chunks of pre-cooked meat (!!!!), with yet another chafing dish of au jus, a bowl of horseradish sauce and some other condiment.
As you slowly work your way through this dispiriting buffet, you load up your plate with veggies, bread and meat and then top it with the hot sauces. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think the cheese fondue might have come from a mix, and I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the provenance of those meat knots. In any case, the formerly hot components are cool by the time you return to the table, which does nothing to warm up the cold vegetables or meat. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not fondue.
You return to the buffet for dessert, an assortment of fruit (slices of apple, pear, banana; orange segments and strawberries). Take some fruit and ladle out a puddle of hot chocolate sauce onto your plate. Again, I won’t swear to it, but it tasted like warmed-up Hershey’s chocolate syrup. With this comes one (1) glass of wine (Cabernet or Chardonnay).
Bottom line is that none of the “fondue” selections included congenial dipping and sipping, and there wasn’t a fondue pot or a fondue fork in sight.
At present, Tamarack charges $45 for a monthly full-moon ski or snowshoe guided excursion, use of equipment, pre-hike wine and appetizers and a “special” dinner afterwards. It would be a good value if the food is good. Last night’s offering was fond-don’t. I was told that other theme nights are Mexican, Thai and sushi. I don’t know what they are like, but I’d be wary and ask for details.