OK, I do believe in love at first sight—and after tasting I am ready to propose. Martiniville on Holmes Beach opened about two months ago, and is, how shall we say, a true home run. The owners like to describe it as a cross between a Bonefish Grill and a Tommy Bahama. Since those are two of my favorites, how could I not want to dive right in?
This polished, casual-style restaurant truly makes you feel the island vibe. Breezeway dining was my favorite, especially since smoking is not allowed. Executive chef Alana Gerling is a dream come true and Anna Maria Island’s good fortune, since she left San Francisco’s dining scene to become the chef at this new destination. Look for creative culinary twists—the wonton braised short rib “nachos” are destined to be a signature dish, and I found myself unable to stop eating until I scooped every generous bite of the barbecue-style short ribs and diced mango. Infusion of flavor is the game here, and it is a winner for sure. A classic Caesar that lets you taste the anchovy is hard to find these days, and I would venture the drive out there for a large bowl of this crisp refreshing salad.
Finally: a GREAT Caesar salad.
The Poo Nang Shrimp in a delicious tempura batter is almost as addictive as bang bang shrimp, but the real “cannot live without dish” is those luscious duck fat French fries, served with truffle ketchup and béarnaise sauce. (Gosh, I hope my doctor isn’t reading this).
Life is always better when potatoes are fried in duck fat.
Sure, there are martinis and plenty of them (watermelon was refreshing and the kiwi with ginger beer a favorite), but I would put this on my GPS favorite for the food alone. If I had one complaint, it is that the music is too loud while you are eating. Martiniville is a place you want to go to with friends and share plates, but conversation was difficult when the fiddle got raging. Then again, I loved the food so much, who needs conversation. I’ll be too busy eating, anyway.