| Marty's Media Stories
Dinner theater: Marty's Blue Room
brings New Orleans flavor to menu
By Kristen Gaydos (Staff Writer) - Citizens Voice
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."
Schonfeld's son, Ben, runs Benny's Brewing Co. Patrons
can view his operation through a glass window in the bar
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.
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."
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"
"We dry age our own beef and we cut our own steaks,"
Schonfeld said. "They're really impressive pieces of
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,"
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."
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
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
Dinner Theater, a monthly dining out feature, explores what's
on the menu at local restaurants. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marty's Blue Room
Location: 100 Old Newport St., Nanticoke
Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 5-10 p.m.
Rhythm and food
Martys Blue Room mixes Cajun cookery with style
By MARY THERESE BIEBEL - Times Leader
Chicken and pasta can be served mild or wild
Martys Blue Room has been serving Cajun-style food
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
didnt 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 Louisianas 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 Martys 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
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 Martys 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.
Its 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 Martys 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 hasnt visited that often; hes
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
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,
Cajun: A style of cooking that developed in Louisianas
bayou country. The name is derived from Acadia, an area
in Canada from which French settlers were driven in the
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
Roux: A thickener made from equal parts flour and fat.
Zydeco: Heavily syncopated dance music from Louisiana.
The Weekender - Wednesday, June 13, 2012
By Nikki M. Mascali - Weekender Editor
IM SO BLUE
After hearing about it for so long, I finally had the opportunity
to dine at Martys 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 Martys
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 couldnt
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 Ive 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 shed 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,
I havent shut up about my excellent experience at
Martys since and cant wait to go back. Hint,
Martys is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5-10:30 p.m.
For more info, call 570.735.7028. To stalk the menu, visit
Nanticoke brewing company eyes
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
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
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.
Nanticoke brewer’s business needs a bit more elbow room
Ben Schonfeld’s Benny Brewing Co. is looking to expand to meet
email@example.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
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
Marty's menu full of unusual items
Marty's Blue Room in Nanticoke is full of surprises, from
three-pound porterhouse steaks and ostrich salads to in-house
Location: 100 Old Newport St., Nanticoke
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
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
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."
Contact: 570-735-7028, www.martysblueroom.com
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.
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.
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
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
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 BIEBELfirstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
"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
Ben Schonfeld ladles Cajun sauce with crawfish over blackened
Jim Schonfeld dredges a catfish filet in Cajun spices
Times Leader - Posted on Wed, Aug. 06, 2003
Blue Room a cheerful place
By S.J. MUNCH - Times Leader
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
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
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