BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
310 West 53rd Street
Although I had experienced fondue a few times at friends’ parties, and certainly enjoyed a chocolate fondue fountain or two at various weddings, eating at Swizz was my first encounter with fondue at a restaurant. I had mostly shyed away in the past because it can get very expensive for a meal that you essentially have to cook yourself.
However, when my friend Stephanie suggested that we go to Swizz for dinner, I jumped at the chance as I knew that I would never be the one to suggest fondue and taking a look at that website, the prices looked more reasonable than I had seen at other fondue establishments.
I met Stephanie at about 7:00pm on a Tuesday night. She was sitting alone in a completely empty restaurant and giddily waved at me from her seat. It was quickly evident to me that the place only stayed open, due to its locale in the theater district, with business from the pre-theater crowd. I walked over to her and sat down, taking in the exposed brick walls and photographs that dotted them, all for sale and by different photographers with subjects ranging from country landscapes to rain forest frogs.
We looked over the menu, settling on the Traditional Cheese Fondue ($21 each), a spicy blend of Gruyere and Emmenthal cheeses served with cubes of bread. We also ordered a side of the spicy Italian sausage ($3) for our additional dipping pleasure. The fondue arrived but a few minutes later from our friendly waiter who was probably extra pleasant just because he knew that we were the only tip he was making that night.
The fondue paired well with the soft chunks of bread, but the sausage which was more of an andouille than spicy Italian, would perhaps have been better paired with the Provencale fondue, a cheese blend with fresh herbs. The clash of the spicy sausage with the slightly bitter cheese could be most accurately described as the toothpaste-orange juice catastrophe, although not nearly as severe.
Overall, my experience atmosphere-wise, at Swizz was a pleasant one (although I might be singing a different tune if it was full of tourists). However, I left hungry and at the same time bloated from all the cheese. Will I be back? Only if I can convince my dining buddy to order off the uninspiring “Swiss” entree menu (Chicken Cordon Bleu or Vegetable Lasagna, anyone?). Maybe fondue just isn’t my thing.