Monday, February 25, 2013

Martin's Tavern Food Review

Fish and Chips at Martin's Tavern

Fish and Chips with a Side of History

Martin's Tavern isn't just an American landmark... It's a culinary institution. Our nation's current President may spend time in Ray's Hell-Burger (since closed) and Ted's Bulletin; but for decades, Martin's was the place to see the Commander-in-Chief dining on top notch bar food. Each president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush has visited at least once (President Obama is the only one who hasn't visited... Thank goodness for second terms, to right your wrongs.)

I wasn't feeling especially presidential today, but I was hungry; so I slipped inside for a late lunch (after 3!) I passed on a burger (next time, I promise) but the Fish and Chips ($14.95) looked mighty inviting. Served with your choice of sides (I went with cole slaw) Martins' F&C is perfect bar grub, especially when you fry fish like they do.

Since I'm half-Irish, it's safe to say I take my fish and chips pretty seriously. I've also been inside my fair share of pubs and taverns. That said, I can't remember having a flakier, tastier piece of fried fish in a long, long time. Cod is a great choice for fish and chips; and along with some extra tasty cole slaw, I was two-thirds of the way to a great lunch. Problem was, the chips (let's be serious, these were french fries) were lousy. I got the feeling they were cooked in the same oil from the lunch rush... too many were burned to one degree or another. That said, I couldn't have been happier given the fine quality of the main component. Bonus points for the homemade tartar sauce.

The best part of Martin's Tavern is the service (as in top notch.) Each and every patron receives a hearty greeting and appreciative good-bye. My server was professional and subtle, slipping in and out with a drink refill or a quick check-in... Old school skillz, that are sorely missing from the casual dining environments we're being trained to get used to nowadays.

Martin's history runs a close second to service, and kudos to management for pointing it out without being too showy. The good thing about history is... you can't buy it. JFK and LBJ hung out here, and have booths named for them. I sat in former Secretary of State Madeline Albright's booth (one that doubles as a tight fit for yours truly... I'm about half-a-dozen burgers from not fitting in one.) You don't have to be a history buff like me to be impressed by the Proposal Booth, where JFK allegedly asked Jackie to marry him, or the Truman Booth (#6) where Harry sat frequently with wife Bess and daughter Margaret (one of my favorite all-time authors.)

Not many places last 10 years in this business, yet alone 80. Good food, great service and a sense of history make Martin's the place to visit in Georgetown (at least once.)

Grade: A solid B (A+ for history buffs.)