Story by Bob Bowersox
Photos Courtesy of Martin’s
When you chat with Fritz Busam, one phrase keeps coming up: “attention to detail.”
Doesn’t matter if you’re talking décor, ambiance, wine lists, or the intriguing fare on the menu, it’s clear that it’s the details that count with Busam and his brother and Executive Chef Martin, who own Martin’s, on Duval Street in Key West.
It’s been that way for 22 years, ever since the brothers had a chance meeting with Key West’s Eaton House owner Mike Eaton.
“We met him during a visit in Key West staying at the Eden House Hotel,” Busam says during a recent morning as his staff busily prepares for the day. “At the time the restaurant at Eaton House was closed and he wasn’t interested in opening it unless it could be something special, something you wouldn’t find over here. He said he was interested in European chefs, so we talked and he eventually asked us to come over and open it.”
Germany’s loss is our gain; because, Martin’s, now 22 and in its newest location at 917 Duval, is something special. From its three distinctive dining areas (secluded garden, open lounge, enclosed formal dining room), to the handmade Berlin furniture, to the one-of-a-kind gold metal wallpaper and feather chandelier (yes, feather!), to an exceptional wine list, to a creative menu that perfectly mixes classic European culinary traditions with the relaxed island flavors and sensibilities that surround it, Martin’s offers diners an experience, not just a meal.
“We’re owner-based, very personal,” Busam says. “We pride ourselves on getting to know you and greeting you by name when we do. We form relationships with our customers. We may have European traditions in our hearts, but we have the arm-around-the-shoulder friendliness that is expected here in Key West.”
Which is why if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for Mom on her upcoming special day on Sunday, May 9, you may want to consider taking her to Martin’s for Mother’s Day Brunch.
Long one of the best spots in Key West for a Sunday Brunch, Martin’s is stepping it up this year, bringing their signature attention to detail to the specials on the Brunch menu for Mom, and making it easy on the offspring’s wallet in the bargain.
How about a 2-pound live Maine lobster, flown in the day before, steamed, pre-cut and ready to dip into a clarified butter? Or a classic Surf and Turf, with a 1-pound live Maine lobster and a 7-8-oz., perfectly cooked filet mignon? Or a Classic Beef Wellington, with a center of beef tenderloin, topped with foie gras of duck, sautéed mushrooms, onions and serano ham to die for, and all wrapped in a light, flaky, puff pastry and baked to perfection?
Sound good? Well, think about this: for Mother’s Day, Martin’s is adding these remarkable dishes to their menu for only $45 each, a la carte! A 2-pound Maine lobster for $45?!?! (A 1-pound Maine lobster for $25)
And those are in addition to a Brunch menu that already intrigues. There will be a mouth-watering array of Eggs Benedict, from the classic Canadian Bacon, to a Yellowtail with Capers, to a Lobster, a Crab, a Vegetable, even a Black Forest Benedict, prepared with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and good old American bacon. French Toast, Omelets, and even Crepes are staples. There’s a full tapas menu – small plates for those who prefer them. And then there are the desserts…Banana’s Foster, Chocolate Truffle Tart, Mousse of the Day, Crème Brulee, and the brother’s homage to home, an Apple Strudel unlike any you’ve had here before.
“We have our own in-house pastry chef,” Busam said. “Everything is made here from scratch. It’s the kind of cooking and presentation you expect in Europe, but adapted to where we are. All fresh, local ingredients, which is why our items have the truly rich flavors.”
The full bar service has anything Mom will want, from a mimosa to a grasshopper, and if Dad wants his Jack on the rocks or an imported or domestic beer, he can have it. There’s also a 140-choice wine list, progressively listed from light to full-bodied, with names like Veuve, Chandon, Moet, Cakebread, Caymus, Bricco Roche, and two dozen others, and choices that range from champagnes to chardonnays, from Bordeaux, to Burgundies, Shirazes, and Malbecs.
“We’re going to make it special for Mom,” Busam said, “but everyone will enjoy it.”
The hours for Mother’s Day Brunch are 10 am to 3 pm. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by calling 305-295-0111 or through www.opentable.com.