The “black and bleu” fish sandwich at Marathon Grill & Ale House is really, really good. The spicy blackened seasoning is deliciously offset with the creamy blue cheese. It’s served with a side of skin-on red potato salad with a light dressing. I know this because I ordered it for lunch the other day and it was fantastic. Everything tasted very fresh. It has to be, said Marathon Grill’s Simone Mullis.
“Our freezer is only about this big,” she said, stretching her arms out.
The restaurant has been open less than a year and is successful beyond what owner Michael Payne and Simone expected. They’ve made a couple of really smart decisions — like going after the late night crowd and keeping the kitchen open late. They added entertainment and a craft brew selection second to none in the Middle Keys. Most importantly, however, they lured Michael’s big brother Danny into the kitchen.
His creations range from the pear and blue cheese salad featuring glazed walnuts to seafood fra diavolo featuring a heap of clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and lobster in spicy marinara sauce over steaming pasta. He’s aided in his endeavors by “Mr. Scott,” a chef in training. Danny’s specialty, though, and what he likes to eat himself, is the seafood.
“I like the scampi and seafood dishes like that,” Danny said.
He nods his head thoughtfully when the success of the restaurant and menu is broached.
“It’s amazing the amount of food we sell between 10 p.m. and midnight,” Danny said. “Oh, and wing night [on Thursdays] is also very popular. I think that since we started it we’ve been increasing our wing order by two cases every week.”
Go late, or go early. The early bird special from 4 to 6 p.m. has many of the same favorites as the regular menu. Buy the first salad or entrée at full price, and the other is on “the House.”
Marathon Grill & Ale is super accommodating of the big parties that arrive after a Marathon evening event — say, “class night” or graduation. In May, they made room for a bunch of parents celebrating the successful conclusion of the middle school prom, myself included. We, of course, went straight for the craft beer.
“We’re selling a lot of seasonal beers. Right now, the Summer Solstice by Anderson Valley is very popular,” said bartender Erin Newton. “Plus we have Funky Buddha and Guinness on tap. Everyone comes here to get their ‘Black and Tan.’”
Simone said she’s positive about the coming months.
“Season will be here sooner than we know it, and we know that locals’ word of mouth will play an important role,” she said. “But I think the summer is going to be good, too. When it’s too windy, too wet or too hot, people come to Marathon Grill & Ale House.”