Cheese & Cheer at Fondue Village at The Ocean House


When I heard about The Fondue Village last year, I couldn’t wait to go. But it ain’t cheap, so I needed a good reason. My daughter’s 25th birthday (which we’ll be celebrating all month long) was IT. And, an ultra-millennial move – declaring that she wanted nothing but experiences – clinched it.

We made reservations for last Sunday and headed to Watch Hill. I was surprised to see the bright orange vintage gondolas (a nod to the collaboration with Veuve Cliquot) on the front lawn, but do not despair.  Once you cozy up inside, you’ve got distant water views and a clutch of twinkling pine trees surrounding you. And for our little family, for three hours on a wintry day, we felt transported to a tiny ski village in the Swiss Alps.

How it works: Make reservations online, and you’ll be greeted by your server who offers you an Ocean House down jacket (you won’t need it) and tucks you into your personal gondola. You’ll snack on a charcuterie board, pretzel rolls, and pickled veggies as you snuggle under the electric blankets and faux-fur throws. The refurbished gondolas have been kitted out with pine paneling, heated floors, and spot-on decor, including antler chandeliers, Swiss themed knick-knacks, and even polka playing on the iPod (which we eventually switched out to our own playlist). Drinks are available, or you can buy the Veuve Clicquot pairing (which we did), that starts your off merrily with a refreshing champagne cocktail studded with cranberries and rosemary.

The first course is a delicate mache salad (my favorite lettuce!), simply dressed with champagne vinaigrette. If you’d like something a bit heartier, go for the creamy barley soup (my skinny husband did). Next, of course, FONDUE (and more champagne)! A steaming vat landed at our table accompanied by tiny boiled new potatoes and crusty chunks of French bread. We did our best but didn’t make it to the prized “la religieuse,” the crispy bit at the bottom of the pot. Dessert, after all that cheese, is a bit redundant, and we weren’t especially enticed by the prune tart and plate of cookies, lovely as they looked, but have at it if you can!

For us, it was the perfect winter pick-me-up. Yes, it’s expensive, but if you’re looking to celebrate something special with a three-hour experience, we found this one unforgettable.

Seatings in your private gondola for lunch are available Thursday through Sunday at noon, and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Must reserve ahead. $400 for up to 4, $600 for up to 6, plus 20% service charge and tax. Veuve Cliquot pairing additional. Other menu options available, check the website.  A portion of the proceeds from Fondue Express will benefit the Ocean House Fund for Charitable Giving.

1 Bluff Ave, Westerly, RI

Visit Ocean House for more info.

2021 UPDATE! The Fondue Village now offers Breakfast, “Apres-Ski” Lunch, Afternoon Crepes as well as dinner for up to 6 people.