Great Caesar!

August 2011
Written By: 
Denise Mullen
Photographs by: 
Bobby Altman

Martin's tableside service of salad and dessert makes for a memorable dining experience




I have to admit that I’m an absolute sucker for Caesar Salad, tableside.

To me, it is one of the best things that ever made its way to a menu. I will purposely seek out establishments that serve it, but sadly, the from-scratch-tableside version of this wonderful dish has become nearly extinct.

Elusive as it is, I found one of the best Caesars I’ve ever tasted at the equally enigmatic Martin’s Restaurant, tucked away in the Long Bay Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.

The restaurant itself has been retrofitted into the main floor of the hotel, a somewhat confused ambience of wild wall graphics, a smattering of Old World furnishings and artwork, plus a picture-perfect view of the bustling kiddie pool.

But there’s nothing confusing about the quality service and food here.

Like owner/chef Martin Dobr—who, by the way, personally greeted us at the door —most of the staff is from the Czech Republic. It’s evident that they take pride in their vocation. The bartender came to take our drink order, followed by a water-and-dinner-roll-bearing server who took our food order, and then came the man who would expertly craft the salad before our eyes, confirming our approval of every ingredient from the egg yolk to mashed anchovies to a splash of hot sauce.

Martin’s menu is a refreshing flight from usual fare that reflects Dobr’s career that started in Prague, ventured into Austria, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii. He had a significant stint at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. In fact, the Martin’s menu cover is a caricature of Dobr charcoaled during his Beverly Hills catering days and given to him by Joe Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s exercise coach, capturing Dobr’s trademark slogan: “Specially for you!”

There’s frog legs sautéed in white wine, garlic, parsley and butter and escargot crostini on the appetizer list. Entrees include a “Best in 1,000 miles” veal Wienerschnitzel, a New York strip that comes with the warning: “Strictly for garlic lovers,” Lobster Thermidor and Grouper Finnes Herbes baked into a crust of breadcrumb, herbs and Romano cheese, finished with grilled tomato and eggplant.

Every meal begins with homemade soup and on our visit it happened to be a delicious creamy bowl of vegetables with barley, sans the usual overdose of salt common to most broths.

Adorees insist that the difference between good duck and great duck is achieving a crispy skin while keeping the underlying meat moist. According to my husband, Martin’s roasted duckling dish hit a gastronomic bull’s-eye, served semi-boned in a shallow pool of cooked apples and Madeira demi-glace with a hit of cinnamon; pan fried potatoes on the side, crunchy around the rim and silky in the middle.

I opted for the Scallops Denia, the shellfish pan seared, floating on a sauce that takes Béchamel to a new level, infused with sun-dried tomatoes, watercress and white wine. As a complement, a rouille of roasted red peppers drew a circle around the entire plate. The marriage of the two sauces was nothing short of heavenly and an accompanying dish of fluffy herbed rice was the perfect way to sop up every last bite of it.

It was a shame we had no room left for dessert because Martin’s flambés crème brûlée, cherries jubilee and bananas foster at your table. And the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and chocolate truffle mousse cake kept calling us back for another visit.

Entrée selections range in price from $12 for a vegetarian Ravioli Rapeli to nearly $30 depending on the market price for lobster or a meaty combo of filet mignon and New York steak—a true value by Grand Strand market standards in terms of taste, portion and cost.

If you prefer to eat dinner by 6:30 p.m., Martin’s offers a list of Early Bird meals at special prices that include the signature soup, a house salad and one side dish. And, for a mere $6.95, Martin’s puts on a full breakfast buffet every day, complete with an omelet station.

I plan to start a new, all-tableside tradition at Martin’s starting with Caesar salad, moving on to Steak Tartare and finishing with Bananas Foster! And I’ll try almost anything in between as long as it doesn’t set off a fire alarm.