With all of the new restaurants and bars opening their doors these days, sometimes we can forget about the wonderful gems that have been in our backyard for years. And while many old staples have been closing their doors, some are stepping up, getting inspired, and proving they can still hang with the new kids.
Martine has been around since 1999, and like many restaurants that have been around that long, they have gone through change and growing pains, but have always seemed to keep loyal customers. I hadn’t been into Martine in a few years, and I was really excited to check out what the new Chef was cooking up. Also, I had forgotten how much I really love the space that Martine occupies. It has such a classic, European cafe vibe that I dig (located in the historic Utah Commercial and Savings Bank building on 100 South and 22 East) — and also feels “lived in” and loved. Overall, I was really impressed with the dishes that Chef Brandon created, as well as the classic and original cocktails that came from the bar. Let’s just say that if Martine and I were on our first date, I was the over-excited one at the end of the night, who would likely text too soon the next day.
I have a big ol’ crush on Martine.
A little bit about Martine’s new Chef: “Executive Chef Brandon Mowbray has returned to Salt Lake City to bring his innovative but approachable cuisine to the beloved downtown establishment, Martine Café. “Ingredients inspire me,” says Brandon, who has found that the key to crafting an unforgettable dish lies in obtaining the freshest ingredients possible. Brandon’s incredible care and attention to where Martine’s ingredients are sourced results in a meal that is truly a product of the region’s best flavors.”
Martine’s menu will be rotating seasonally and be showcasing innovative dishes that will be constantly evolving and shifting depending on what local and best sourced ingredients Chef Brandon can get his hands on.
Here are a few of the current dishes and cocktails we tried!
Corpse Reviver #2: Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon, Cointreau, Absinthe rinse (the perfect cocktail for a hot summer day!)
The Slow Burn: Knob Creek Bourbon, Aperol, Lillet Rouge, Bitters Lab Habanero Bitters
This was certainly the favorite cocktail of the evening! Gotta love that Bitters Lab habanero bitters!
The Old Cuban: Abuelo Anejo 12 anos Rum, Mint, Lime, Cava
Field Asparagus: Ricotta, Oregon Black Truffle Vinaigrette, Poached Egg ($10)
This dish was so simple and so wonderful. The perfectly poached egg added some depth to the subtle vinaigrette and the asparagus and micro greens were incredibly fresh. Perfect stater!
Morel Mushrooms: Onion jam, Grilled Bread, Fresh Thyme ($12)
This dish. THIS DISH. It is the stuff mushroom dreams are made of. The texture of these mushrooms — unbelievable, and they had a perfect sear on them to add even a bit more complexity. The jam and thyme were great compliments, and all on wonderfully toasted bread. We are still talking about the “morels from Martine”. I would get there and order them up before mushroom season is over!
Small plate evening special: Flank Steak with blueberry compote and fresh greens
A delicate cut of meat, cooked perfectly medium — the berries added just enough sweetness and the greens added just enough bite.
Grilled Red Hen: Blue corn chilaquiles, Beehive cheddar mornay, Cilantro ($24)
You guys. The hen. I wasn’t really sure how the hen was going to come out or be presented, but we were so pleasantly surprised. I love the Mexican twist with the chilaquiles and the red sauce was so so good. We devoured this dish and I would order it again in a heartbeat.
Sea Scallops: Seasonal mushrooms, celery root, charred ramp pistou ($28)
Let’s talk about the char on these scallops. It was on point — adding such a great flavor and crispness while still leaving the most succulent scallop that was in no way overcooked. Hoorah for the cast iron skillet! These were all familiar flavors, done very very well. If scallops your go-to, then these will not disappoint.
Chef Brandon also sent out two desserts. The ginger “cookie” dessert was definitely our favorite. Not overly sweet and complimented with lush vanilla bean ice cream, the ginger cake wasn’t too heavy and tasted divine. And of course, we dug into that chocolate beauty as well — followed by another Slow Burn cocktail and glass of bubbly.
A perfect way to end the meal!
The menu rivals those of any restaurant opening its doors right now, and the cocktail program is also keeping up with the ever-growing craft cocktail scene here in Salt Lake. We left so happy and full and I will definitely be back to see what Chef Brandon will be featuring on the new menu coming out soon.
*Thank you to Martine Cafe and Panic Button Media for hosting me