Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Never, ever ask me for a recommendation on where to eat. The problem with asking me is I want to send to eat food I'm craving. The number one question we field is "Where should I go for Saturday lunch, something more than a po boy but not Antoine's?" My answer to that question is usually "uhhhhh, well, Butcher? Maybe Boucherie, but are they open? Hmmmm, don't know."

Ask Lindsay instead. Lindsay's answer to that oft asked question is Martinique Bistro. And it is a very good one at that. The restaurant is named after the French Caribbean Island, which in turn is named after the Spanish expression for "What Martini?"

Martinique Bistro is located in that peculiar stretch of Magazine between State and Nashville where parking is hard to find . The restaurant boasts the best outdoor seating in the city, Bayona is a close second. Behind a wall of stone and ivory is a smattering of tables warmed by the sun and heaters in the winter/spring and cooled by shade in the summer. On our last visit, the rain forced us to dine in the charming, French bistro motif laced interior.

Only problem was there was a large birthday party dining in there. They were dressed in funny golf pants, slugged shots of Jagermeister, spoke loudly, and laughed louder. Nothing wrong with that, but when Martinique is filled, expect a Galatoire's sound level. Once the bread hits the table, the noise silences. Is there any better cure for what ails you than the marriage of warm bread and cold, salted butter?

Besides cocktails, of course. The Southern Styled Iced Tea takes the best of Tea Flavored Vodka and mixes it with what makes an Arnold Palmer such a refreshing summer drink. This may also be one reason John Daly has had such a hard time. Originally, I ordered the St. Rose, a St. Germaine hit to a rose champagne from of all places, New Mexico. But, for some reason the Peche en Louisiane kept my attention. The audible into the vibrant taste Lillet Blanc, soda, bitters, and peaches was one of the top 10 decisions of that day. The best? Purchasing a Member's Only jacket for 12 bucks.

To start we both got soups. I went with the menu standby of corn, red pepper and chorizo which was slightly disappointing. Not because it was a bad soup, but because the sweet corn flavor dominated. Lost in the shuffle was the heat from the red pepper or the savory, spiced pork flavor of chorizo. Lindsay's soup however kicked some serious sass. The curried butternut squash had just the right mix of roasted and pureed squash and its accompanying sweetness and back of throat heat from toasted curry spices.

The egg may be the most versatile and delicious food. Since we were technically eating brunch, I went for an egg overload. What you see here is eggs two ways, poached and bernaised, served with seared flat iron steak and duck fat roasted potatoes. There are some pieces of bread thrown in there for good measure just to make me love the dish even more. The bernaise was pitch perfect, not thick, gloppy nor boring, and punched up with tarragon and a good touch of vinegar. This is one of the better plates of food I've had this year.

Lindsay ordered a relative of the salade nicoise (pictured at top). Pog-diameter sized (how is that for a blast from the past) scallops seared, sent out with haricots verts, egg, potatoes, tomatoes and an olive based vinaigrette. She enjoyed it, but claimed the scallops were a little salty. The eggs were overcooked. Lesson here: always order your eggs bernaised.

Martinique is a delightful place to have a lunch when you aren't in the mood for the sandwich arts. But don't take my word for it, take Lindsay's.

Martinique Bistro- Birdie.


Alex Rawls said...

The golf pants were a friend's 40th birthday getting off to a proper start (or continuing a proper start).

Rene said...

I knew someone would know them. Again no problem with it, just used it as an example it can get loud in the quaint cottage.

They even had some lady dressed as a chauffeur, bonus points for that.