Marty's Media Stories
1/23/2014
Dinner theater: Marty's Blue Room brings New Orleans flavor to menu
By Kristen Gaydos (Staff Writer) - Citizens Voice

Scene-setter
Plenty of New Orleans flavor on the menu means it's always Mardi Gras at Marty's Blue Room in Nanticoke.
The restaurant, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, specializes in steaks and Cajun cuisine. It also houses a microbrewery. Owner Jim Schonfeld said freshness and innovation are the keys to a unique menu at the family run restaurant.
"It's the freshest ingredients we can find," Schonfeld said. "We do everything from scratch. Whatever's on the menu is done here."

Pre-show cocktails
Schonfeld's son, Ben, runs Benny's Brewing Co. Patrons can view his operation through a glass window in the bar area.
In addition to the year-round amber lager, Wit (Belgian-style wheat) and Hopenstein (India pale ale), Ben Schonfeld concocts four seasonal brews. His current brew is the Oatmeal Stout, a dark, full-bodied ale with hints of chocolate and coffee.
"He's also brewing two ales that are going to be coming out very shortly," Schonfeld said.

Opening act
Sample the eatery's New Orleans flavor with the Cajun crawfish - or shrimp, if you prefer. Both are sauteed in a Cajun sauce and served with garlic bread.
Schonfeld said his seafood supplier is his right-hand man when it comes to delivering the best fish and shellfish. Whether it's swordfish, catfish or crab, the quick turnaround means a fresh foundation for each dish.
"He picks everything up right from the docks for me," Schonfeld said. "He's my eyes down there."

Headliner
Steak lovers, rejoice. Top-quality steaks cut from Midwestern, corn-fed beef are a priority at the restaurant. Order the Delmonico as an 18-ounce regular cut or a 36-ounce "Cattlemen's" cut.
"We dry age our own beef and we cut our own steaks," Schonfeld said. "They're really impressive pieces of meat."
Dinners include two sides, with choices like Old Bay fries, jambalaya or made-to-order mashed potatoes.
"We mash the potatoes and mix in the cheese and spices," he said.

Big finish
Marty's features bread pudding, a popular dish in Cajun cuisine. They make desserts in house.
"We're known for our bread pudding. It's traditional New Orleans-type fare," Schonfeld said. "We do them with various sauces, like bourbon sauce or rum sauce."

Encore
For lighter starters, try the soups made fresh every day, like the French onion, or sliced Parmesan, Asiago, bleu or hot pepper cheese cut right from the wheel.
The entree menu includes several preparations for fresh seafood, like honey-glazed and southern-fried for catfish and haddock.
The restaurant features new items every week, based on what ingredients are available. Recent dishes included Cajun smoked meatloaf, Cajun chicken cordon bleu, and pork Delmonico.
While they like to introduce new items, if customers clamor for a dish, they'll bring it back if possible, Schonfeld said. That happened with their homemade buffalo chips.
The restaurant also offers selections for adventurous eaters. Recently, the menu featured southern fried frog legs and turducken sausage.
Dinner Theater, a monthly dining out feature, explores what's on the menu at local restaurants. Send suggestions to jumpstart@citizensvoice.com.

Marty's Blue Room
Location: 100 Old Newport St., Nanticoke
Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 5-10 p.m.
Phone: 570-735-7028
Online: martysblueroom.com

6/27/2012
Rhythm and food
Marty’s Blue Room mixes Cajun cookery with style

By MARY THERESE BIEBEL - Times Leader


Chicken and pasta can be served ‘mild’ or ‘wild’ at Marty’s.
Marty’s Blue Room has been serving Cajun-style food since 1984.
As he prepares to dredge a steak in spices, Jim Schonfeld explains he buys the Cajun blend he designed himself, 500 pounds at a time, from a spice company.
Peppers, onions and fat-and-flour roux came from French settlers who were driven out of Canada in the 1750s and didn’t stop heading south until they reached the ocean.
While the Choctaw tribe knew how to turn dried sassafras leaves into a thickener called filé powder, people from Africa planted okra, which they called by a name that sounded like “gumbo.”
Paella-loving Spaniards contributed the idea of adding fish to jambalaya stews, while sausage-loving Germans may have been the first to craft andouille.
Put all those influences together and you have the makings of Cajun cookery that smells and tastes as if it simmered for hours in Louisiana’s bayou country, perhaps in a big, old, cast-iron cauldron.
“The food is just like the music,” chef Jim Schonfeld said as he dredged a steak in spices at Marty’s Blue Room in Newport Township. “It started with the French settlers who had violins. Then the Germans brought their accordions, and the Africans brought their rhythms and the beat. Put it together and you get zydeco.”
Cajun fare tends to be hearty, Schonfeld said, explaining it was designed to feed hard-working people who lived off the land – growing vegetables, fishing and hunting game.
“A lot of times, they had one-pot meals,” he said. “You could take one duck, put it in a pot (with other ingredients) and stretch it to feed the whole family.”
At Marty’s Blue Room on Old Newport Street, some of the larger steak entrees – in particular a cut of aged beef Schonfeld calls the “tomahawk” – do look as if each piece by itself could feed a family.
“It’s a ribeye steak, attached to the rib bones,” he said, brandishing one of those big boys. “Take the rib bones away, and you have a regular Delmonico steak.”
Estimating the hefty “tomahawk” weighed three pounds, Schonfeld said, “I had a guy come in here the other night. He said he traveled the world, and it was the best steak he ever had.”
Indeed, a glance at the Marty’s Blue Room website reveals the customer reviews are filled with such adjectives as “fantastic,” “fabulous” and “marvelous.”
Schonfeld, who established the restaurant in 1984, used to travel to Louisiana as often as he could to attend hoedowns and shrimp boils and learn more about Cajun cuisine in the land of its birth.
In recent years he hasn’t visited that often; he’s been too busy cooking up a storm of steaks and jambalaya, catfish and crawfish, as well as chicken, pasta, wings, barbecue and plenty of other dishes both “mild” and “wild.”
“A lot of people think Cajun means fiery. But you can have a dish with or without the heat,” said Schonfeld, who buys a spice blend he designed himself, 500 pounds at a time, from a spice company.
On a sweltering afternoon last week, the chef and a young assistant, Ricky Kinder, whipped up a Cajun steak, Cajun crawfish and a dish of chicken with pasta.
The kitchen was hot and would get hotter before the day was out, Schonfeld predicted. Perhaps it would even reach a heat and humidity similar to the bayou.
“Just wait until this oven is full of steaks,” he said.

Cajun: A style of cooking that developed in Louisiana’s bayou country. The name is derived from Acadia, an area in Canada from which French settlers were driven in the 1750s.
Andouille: Coarsely ground pork sausage.
Jambalaya: A stew of meat, fish, rice and vegetables.
Gumbo: A strongly flavored soup whose name might derive from the Bantu word for okra or the Choctaw word for filé.
Filé: A thickener made from sassafras leaves.
Etouffée: Seafood over rice. It literally means “smothered” in French.
Roux: A thickener made from equal parts flour and fat.
Zydeco: Heavily syncopated dance music from Louisiana.

The Weekender - Wednesday, June 13, 2012
dISH
By Nikki M. Mascali - Weekender Editor
I’M SO ‘BLUE’

After hearing about it for so long, I finally had the opportunity to dine at Marty’s Blue Room (100 Old Newport St., Nanticoke) when my mom took me there to kick off my birthday weekend Friday night.
Having been there many times (without me, mind you), Mom suggested not getting an appetizer because the dinners come with two sides, so I bypassed starters like Marty’s famed jambalaya or catfish fingers. But I did make up for my loss by choosing farm-raised catfish “crazy” (as opposed to grilled, pan-seared, honey-glazed, etc), which was blackened and served over jambalaya. For my side, I chose a salad to counteract the Old Bay fries I couldn’t resist (it was my birthday weekend, after all). Mom went with her usual: Crazy haddock, a salad and a side of broccoli.
Both fish were served as four sizeable pieces over a mound of jambalaya, which was fantastic. The fries could arguably be the best Old Bay fries I’ve had — golden-fried and crunchy and dusted liberally with the salty mix.
Just when we thought we had no room, our affable server ran down the list of desserts, including a chocolate bread pudding sprinkled with bacon crumbles. Immediately in, Mom, however, took some coaxing, declaring she’d take just one bite, but we both pretty much devoured this perfect concoction. The bacon on the chocolate bread pudding was incredible, and, mixed with the creamy vanilla ice cream, stupendous.
I haven’t shut up about my excellent experience at Marty’s since and can’t wait to go back. Hint, hint.
Marty’s is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5-10:30 p.m. For more info, call 570.735.7028. To stalk the menu, visit martysblueroom.com.

4/4/2012
Nanticoke brewing company eyes expansion
Citizens' Voice


Benny Brewing Company, the Nanticoke microbrewery inside Marty's Blue Room, is one step closer to expanding its distribution beyond Luzerne County.
The Luzerne County zoning board voted 2-0 - one member was absent - Tuesday evening to allow a use variance that would permit the microbrewery at 100 Old Newport St. to expand its building to allow a 900 percent increase in its production. Benny Brewing currently has a single 31-gallon barrel to brew its three year-round beers and one revolving seasonal beer; the building expansion would allow for 10 31-gallon barrels.
"I want to look into Lackawanna and some up north as well," said brewmaster Ben Schonfeld, adding that about 10 locations currently carry its beer. "Maybe we'll go down to the Allentown area. I guess it depends on what distributor I choose."
Although there are many other steps left for construction to begin - getting the OK from the USDA, Liquor Control Board and planning commission - Schonfeld and his father, restaurateur James Schonfeld, hope to open the expansion by the spring of 2013.
At first, the Schonfelds would simply like to produce more of their three trademark beers: amber lager, india pale ale and wheat. As time progresses, brewmaster Ben might experiment with limited-edition beers, such as those aged in wooden barrels.
"We can't keep up with the demand we have right now," said James Schonfeld, owner of Marty's Blue Room. "We can't make it fast enough."
James Schonfeld said the microbrewery is already permitted to sell anywhere in Pennsylvania but, once the expansion is built, it will be a while before local residents spot the beers in a city like Philadelphia.
"We'd like to hit other markets slowly but surely," he said. "It's a slow climb, and it's something where you have to crawl before you walk. People enjoy it, and then you take it to another place.

3/31/12
Nanticoke brewer’s business needs a bit more elbow room
Ben Schonfeld’s Benny Brewing Co. is looking to expand to meet demand.

aseder@timesleader.com - 570-829-7269

A thirst for Ben Schonfeld’s beer has led the aspiring brewer from Nanticoke to expand capacity as he looks to become a microbrewer.
Schonfeld, 32, through his “Benny Brewing Co.,” has been brewing about a half-barrel of beer per day since August 2010 inside Marty’s Blue Room, his family’s Newport Township restaurant and bar. With three year-round varieties and a rotating seasonal brew, he said business is good and getting better.
About 10 bars throughout Luzerne County carry his beer on tap and 22-ounce bottles are sold at Marty’s. While he hasn’t run out of beer, supplies have been tight. So he made the decision to invest a lot of money, which will mean the investment of a lot more of his time, into expanding his brewing capacity to 10 barrels per day. Just how much money, Schonfeld isn’t saying, but he expects it to pay off.
He said if the plan is approved by government officials, work will start on a new 2,607-square-foot building adjacent to the restaurant. He hasn’t purchased equipment or hired a contractor because he first needs approval from the Luzerne County Zoning Hearing Board.
His request for variances is before that body Tuesday night.
“Everything’s been on hold until this hearing,” Schonfeld said.
The Schonfelds purchased an adjoining property and home a decade ago with the idea the lot could one day be used for expansion or overflow parking. The house was razed but the property hasn’t been used … until now.
The new building will be dedicated to brewing equipment and the brewing process.
Schonfeld’s father, Jim, who owns the property and Marty’s Blue Room, also is requesting approval to build a 455-square-foot addition to the restaurant itself. The two buildings will be attached but there will be no public access to the brewing area, though tours may be given.
A glass wall will be installed so people in the restaurant will be able to see the brewing process take place.
Schonfeld said his current brewing capacity is about 60 barrels a year. With the new equipment and space, he said he will be able to brew up to 1,400 barrels a year. That will result in his beer being sold in a 10-county radius as far away as the Lehigh Valley, Bloomsburg and the Northern Tier.
While half-kegs and sixtels – a canister that holds about two and a quarter cases - will still be sold, 12-ounce bottles will replace the 22 ounce size sold now.
If business continues to boom, Schonfeld said expansion on the property is not likely.
“If I decided to go larger, I’d probably move,” he said.
Kristen Kochanski, a bartender at JJ Bankos, said the Benny Brew Amber Lager has been selling well since it entered the draft offerings at the West Nanticoke establishment. She said customers seem to be ordering it again and again. Once they learn it’s from a local brewer, she said, they’re impressed.
In the past week, the Oatmeal Stout has been added to the draft lineup at JJ Bankos, but it hasn’t been as popular as the original lager.

4/14/2011
Marty's menu full of unusual items
kgaydos@citizensvoice.com

Marty's Blue Room in Nanticoke is full of surprises, from three-pound porterhouse steaks and ostrich salads to in-house brewed beer.
No one named Marty works at the restaurant now - the name refers to former owner Martha Jones. However, owner Jim Schonfeld was born a Gemini, and jokes abound that Marty is his not-so-gregarious other half.
Schonfeld bought the restaurant 28 years ago and put to work his knowledge of Cajun cuisine from numerous family vacations to Louisiana. The former pipe fitter and welder desired a job that would allow him to spend more time with his family.
"I had two little children and didn't want to travel anymore, so we found this," he said.
Running the restaurant is now a family affair. Schonfeld's wife, daughter and son all chip in to manage the wait staff, clean and run the restaurant's brewery.
Schonfeld's son, Ben, is brewmaster of Benny's Brewing Co. Restaurant patrons can view the microbrewery's operations through a glass window in the bar area.
Current offerings include Hopenstein, an India pale ale; Amber Lager and Wit, a Belgian-style wheat beer. A summer ale will be introduced this month.
"I've been doing it for years, and I decided to bring it out to the restaurant (in August,)" he added. "It adds appeal."
The restaurant's regular features include quality items that may seem a little unusual - for example, the ostrich filet salad, which contains ostrich meat from Australia.
Fresh ingredients are the only way to go, Jim Schonfeld said. He makes all his own sauces, and grows his own seasoning in a herb garden behind the restaurant. Everything is about quality, from choice cuts of meat to gourmet cheeses, he added.
"Nothing comes out of a box or can," Schonfeld said. "We don't hold back on anything."
Many of the dishes feature Cajun food with a northeastern Pennsylvania flair, Schonfeld said. Some eye-openers on the menu include the two-and-a-half-pound caveman pork chop and the three-pound porterhouse steak, served vertically for maximum impact. Patrons' inevitable reaction to the meal can be summed up in three words: "Oh my God."

Location: 100 Old Newport St., Nanticoke
Contact: 570-735-7028, www.martysblueroom.com
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.

ELECTRIC CITY ARTICLE - 8/22/2002
http://www.ecweekend.com/arts/story.asp?id=39485

The interesting thing is Marty's is so simple. You could pass them out as you're driving along Old Newport Street. Big mistake. Don't ever pass these guys out. If you do, you miss an incredible meal. First of all, Marty's starts each and every day with fresh food. Nothing complicated, just basic, consistent, good quality food - something you can count on. They pride themselves in offering the freshest food available, and they've earned a reputation they look forward to keeping for years to come.
So, yes, you have to make reservations. But, once you get there, you can sit back and enjoy your dining experience. If we had to describe the atmosphere to you, it would be nothing special. It's clean, neat and cozy. There are hundreds of pictures covering the walls. All pictures the owners feel important in their line of work. They've served so many - including the famous and elite. It's simply a place you have to drive to and experience and , you'll never be sorry you did.
We started with an appetizer. We decided to share an evening appetizer special. The crab dip done in cream cheese and spices was incredible and served with a selection of crackers. Every one of us had an extraordinary experience ($6.95). Really, it was so wonderful, we could have eaten this dip forever. And, we mean that, sincerely. It was warm and spicy and a perfect start to any meal. They were thrilled we were so enthusiastic about their dip.
As part of our dinner, we received a house salad. We chose both the house salad dressings. One was a creamy Italian and the other a lighter Italian version. Both were outstanding. The salads contained only the freshest ingredients and the best dressings possible. We only could wonder about our other side dishes.
Our dinners arrived promptly after our salads. With our dinners we received an Italian garlic and cheese bread that could knock out some Old Forge pizza restaurants. Yes, it was that good. We also went with the twice baked potato. Again, there was nothing phony about this potato. It was stuffed with cheese and incredibly delicious. Once again, we were impressed.
Our dinner included the fresh jumbo lump crab cakes ($19.95). It was worth every penny. Every bite was just another example of how wonderful seafood dishes can be. Another dish we sampled was the New Orleans bourbon trio ($16.95). If you can't decide, then try this dish complete with shrimp, scallops and chicken. We ordered it exactly as we liked, with linguini and all, and we weren't disappointed. Our dinner was served perfectly. And, we also tried the blackened haddock with their own Cajun spices ($14.95). Anyone who appreciates blackened food will truly appreciate this dish. They do it perfectly. We were amazed that a restaurant so far away from the Scranton area could produce dishes so worthy of travel through Wilkes-Barre and beyond.
Dessert? After all this food? Of course, because we planned on taking food home with us. Yes, they laughed at the fact we couldn't finish our meal, but saved room for dessert. Dessert consisted of a pastry puff with vanilla ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce. It was surrounded by fresh whipping cream. We just had to laugh because you couldn't take this home. You sure had to finish it and appreciate what dessert is all about.
Our final, final to the evening was a cup of coffee ($1.75) and a cup of house coffee ($4.95). House coffee came complete with a dash of this and a dash of that along with a topping of Crème de Menthe. We could only wonder at the calories we ingested in one night. But, it was worth every last one of them.
If you need a place to go where the food is fantastic, Marty's won't let you down. We never expected a restaurant so off the beaten track to be so wonderful. Really. Truly. Travel there for a great fine dining experience in the back of a bar.
MasterCard/Visa/Not Handicapped Accessible/Full Bar/Casual Attire/Expensive

Hoops, barbecue benefit Newport Twp. police
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer 06/28/2004

Members of the Newport Township Police Department were winners and losers on Sunday.At a basketball tournament/chicken dinner fund-raiser held at the Wanamie Recreation Park, they were defeated on the court, but won where it counted, as they were the beneficiaries of the day's proceeds.
Approximately 400 barbecue chicken dinners were prepared and served from the Marty's Blue Room mobile cooking station by a hoard of volunteers.The police department will use the money raised to replace an outdated computer system at the police station in Wanamie.
"New computers weren't in the budget, so they asked us if we could do something," said Jim Schonfeld, owner of Marty's Blue Room, Newport Township, who catered and hosted Sunday's event.
While Schonfeld and staff were busy cooking the chicken, there was some basketball to be played. Being the host team of a three-team tourney, Newport Township police secured a bye into the 'championship game'.
The first game featured a team from Fox 56, which films a cooking show for Marty's Blue Room, versus a team assembled by Larry's Pizza, Nanticoke. In that contest, Larry's Pizza rallied to win in the fourth quarter and went on to face the rested Newport Township police team.Though the police officers held their own throughout the game, in the end, it was the Larry's Pizza team that was crowned champion.
.Newport Township Police Chief Carl Smith said the fund-raiser was a necessity because the department simply cannot function effectively with the computer system it currently uses."We needed the equipment and the township can't afford it," he said. "It was a tremendous turnout. It went better than anyone would have thought."
Some of the sponsors for the event were Quality Gas, Eastern Fuel Oil, Lee's Oil, Hazle Associates Custom Builders, RK Furs, Attorney Patrick Aregood and Marty's Blue Room, and State Rep. John Yudichak (D-119) donated a bike that was raffled off

Catfish with a real bite to it
By MARY THERESE BIEBEL-marytb@leader.net 2/18/04

To see Jim and Ben Schonfeld cooking on television, tune in to "Pennsylvania Outdoors" at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays on WSWB, Channel 38. Father and son often demonstrate how to cook some Pennsylvania fish or game on that show.
The chef grinned, relishing the compliment from a guy on the phone.
"He wanted reservations," Jim Schonfeld said. "He said, 'I heard you make the meanest catfish in town.' "
Now, how do you make the meanest catfish? Why, Cajun style, of course. With spices and flair straight from the bayou.
Schonfeld, who owns Marty's Blue Room on Old Newport Street in Sheatown, cooks the Louisiana way all year round.
But, in Mardi Gras season, or, as he calls it, "Marty Gras," he suspects amateur cooks might want to try to blacken their own fish at home. So, on a recent Thursday afternoon, he agreed to a demonstration, complete with a pep talk.
"Some people become intimidated by a stove," he said. "Don't be. It's your friend. Cooking is nothing but your imagination running wild. You see a recipe that calls for rosemary and you don't like rosemary? So substitute basil."
Even if you absolutely hate a dish, he said, "You have nothing to lose but a few dollars."
| While Schonfeld dredged catfish filets in a dish of Cajun spices and put them on a grill to sizzle, his 24-year-old son, Ben, made a roux of equal parts flour and clarified butter, then whisked in cream and chicken broth.
A roux can include any kind of fat from butter to oil to lard, Jim Schonfeld said. His son likes to use butter, because he prefers the taste.
No matter what kind of fat you use, father and son warned, try not to let the roux splash onto your skin.
"They call it Cajun napalm," Jim Schonfeld said. "It can heat up to hundreds of degrees."
And, if you don't want to smoke up your house, Ben Schonfeld said, consider doing your Cajun cooking "in a cast-iron frying pan on a grill outside."
If you stay inside, his father added, "It can set your smoke alarms off, for sure."
While Jim cooked the catfish until it approached "the fine line between blackened and burned," his son reduced (heated until it partially evaporated) the roux until it was "thick enough to coat a spoon" and added crawfish.
Soon the crawfish-studded sauce topped the catfish, and Jim Schonfeld completed the picture by adding a side plate of raw oysters.
"This is the best time of year to get them from Louisiana," he said as he pried open the stubborn shells. "For about the next month, the water is the coldest it's going to be."
For those who never tried a raw oyster before, Jim Schonfeld offered this advice:
"First, I like to put some lemon juice on them. Then some Tabasco or cocktail sauce. Women can use these little forks. Men usually take them right off the shell."
"They're so sweet," Schonfeld said. "They're incredible."
While he's not Cajun himself, Schonfeld admires the lifestyle that developed when French, Spanish, black and American Indian cultures intermingled in Louisiana. "They fished and farmed and hunted ducks and geese in the wilderness."
On various trips to Cajun country, Schonfeld has learned tips on "downhome goodness" from generous Louisiana chefs who share his passion for cooking, eating and experimenting with recipes.
"Nothing is more intimate than a person cooking for other people," Schonfeld said, insisting that visitors try a spoonful of his latest version of spicy, homemade barbecue sauce.
"I like to put the food in your mouth," he said with a chuckle. "And I like the food to bite you back."
You'll most likely need reservations to get a table at Marty's Blue Room. (The number is 735-7028.) If they run out of room next Tuesday, the official Mardi Gras, you might want to try this recipe at home while you wait to eat out another night.

Marty's Catfish Orleans

3 7-to-9-ounce catfish filets
salt and pepper, to taste
Cajun seasoning, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
3 ounces chicken stock
3 ounces cream
4 ounces crawfish tails

Salt and pepper the catfish filets. Dredge them in Cajun seasoning on both sides. Blacken on both sides in hot cast-iron frying pan. Remove and place on pan in oven at 300 degrees while making roux.

For roux, mix together the flour and the butter. Add three ounces chicken stock and three ounces heavy cream. When thickened, add the crawfish tails and Cajun seasoning to taste. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour sauce and crawfish over blackened catfish.


Ben Schonfeld ladles Cajun sauce with crawfish over blackened catfish

Jim Schonfeld dredges a catfish filet in Cajun spices


Times Leader - Posted on Wed, Aug. 06, 2003
Blue Room a cheerful place to be
By S.J. MUNCH - Times Leader Food Critic

Call me easy to please. Call me easily sold. Call me what you wish, but I call Marty's Blue Room, circa 1984, darn nearly perfect.
OK, maybe I was just a mite disappointed the place wasn't blue. (It was woody and wainscoted and quite comfy, though.) Perhaps the "blue room" bit derives from the fact that any meal served here is sure to chase the blues away. OK, I'm hokey. What of it?
About the food: Marty's bills itself the "home of the cattleman's steak," which weighs 2-plus pounds, but lovers of all things Cajun will find themselves happily transported to southern Louisiana, albeit just outside Nanticoke. Creole's a house specialty here, and dishes come in mild, wild and anything in between.
Fare runs the gamut, with the commendably creative menu offering everything from fried chicken wings and artistic sandwiches, wraps and burgers to gussied-up seafood, poultry and almost a dozen varieties of steak. And, so you know, the house specialty is the prime-rib sandwich. Trust me, this is one of those places you can take absolutely everyone in your motley crew and endure no protests.
My companions for a recent Thursday-evening foray were my parents, an adventurous mother who'll try just about anything and a more particular (read fussy) father. I'm somewhere in between, so we covered the spectrum.
The house starter special was a double order of steamers for $8.95, a fresh and savory mountain of extra-large clams my parents chose to share. The accompanying butter was appropriately warm and plenty enough to cover the whole big batch, which contained but a single unopened dud.
I'm a clam fan myself but passed this time to sample one of Marty's more imaginative "app" offerings. How do crawfish ciabatta bread or catfish fingers grab you? The latter sounded especially intriguing, until I noticed the evening's special: eggplant rolls, fresh eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese and fried, then tucked into a succulent bath of marinara for $6.25. Precision eggplant, without question, and a delight from first bite to last. The dish looked a tad heavy but somehow tasted amazingly light, with the breading just right and the sauce as zippy as zippy gets.
With so many enticing descriptions, dinner was a tough call. Mom chose a special, Orleans-style ahi tuna for $27.40. A fresh, firm yellowfin steak situated in a basin of rich brown sauce supported about a skiff's worth of sweet crawfish atop, which could easily have been mistaken for lobster. Sides were two substantial slices of crunchy yet airy garlic bread topped generously with melted cheese and a humongous dish of Cajun pasta, all in all much more meal than one person could polish off. (But a fine next day's lunch.)
Dad chose Italian wedding soup for $3.95 (which our otherwise impeccable server initially forgot) and a $20.45 combination called The Broadway, a crab cake and a 5-ounce filet mignon. The menu noted the dish as a favorite of one Mr. Joe Waiter, owner of The Broadway Garage. I believe we have a second, Mr. Waiter.
Dad called the crab cake just super - reminiscent of one fresh out of the Baltimore Harbor - and the steak so tender and tasty he had no need for his old-standby, A-1. Diners can dress up their steaks with sauteed onions or mushrooms or oven-roasted garlic, but Dad went the plain route and was no less satisfied.
His only complaint - a minor one - was that his entree cooled off while he sampled his late-arriving soup, which, incidentally, was well-seasoned and served at a perfect temperature.
The number of dishes containing scallops, my favorite offering from the ocean, pleased me like a spiked punch. I opted for a "Chef's Favorite": Cajun scallops and pasta for $15.95. The enormous dish made me briefly consider requesting a shovel, but, again, plenty for lunch. Like buried treasures, the plump and prolific scallops rested under an avalanche of angel hair coated in a just-hot-enough wash of orange-brown spices and spiffed up by a dotting of colorful pepper strips.
On the side, I chose Marty's Cajun Tater and fresh vegetables, two A-plus accompaniments. The Cajun potato was mashed but arrived baked into a ramekin, with the top spilling over to resemble something not unlike an oversize pumpkin muffin. One dip of the fork and ... oh joy! Crispy on the outside with a delectable menagerie of Cajun influence on the hot, velvety inside ... More, Marty, more!
The fresh vegetables - zucchini, squash, broccoli and cauliflower - thrilled more than expected as well. Not parcooked but not mushy. A perfect compromise seasoned perfectly as well.
We'd have passed on the dessert tray, but ... the readers, the readers. (Would we cheat you?) My father managed a $3.95 sundae glass of apple-pie ice cream, vanilla festooned with apples, cinnamon and bits of pie crust that could have masqueraded as pie a la mode. A playful palate cleanser to be sure.
My mother and I shared a "Peanut Butter Explosion" for $5.95 and were astounded at the gargantuan slice, which could have served three or four. Layers of whipped yet firm peanut butter and rich, fudgy chocolate made the delightfully cold treat a true deal-sealer. Even the coffee was art, and refills were quick and fresh.
So there you have it. Very nearly a perfect 10 for the Blue Room. Had we any grievances at all? Yes, my father did let me in on one: I'll have to bring your mother back.
Right you will, funny guy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the interest of integrity, Times Leader restaurant critics remain anonymous to the establishments they review, and their bylines are pen names.

IF YOU GO

What: Marty's Blue Room
Where: 100 Old Newport St., Sheatown
Call: 735-7028
Credit cards? Yes, major
Handicapped accessible? There are two steps at the bar entrance and three at the dining-room entrance.
Smoking/nonsmoking? Yes, sectioned
Reservations necessary? Recommended, especially on weekends