My friend N has just returned from a 30 day trip to India. No, he is not 20 years old at all; in fact he recently celebrated his 50th birthday. I wanted to pick his brain so I dragged him all the way over to Martha – a place I passed through a while ago, when I came to see a show in ZOA. I noticed Marta because of its lovely, wide garden, and so should you: in this crowded city, every inch costs someone a lot of money. And I can appreciate the effort.
The night was a bit chilly (you have got to hand it to this winter, it just doesn't let go), so we took a sit inside. Martha's décor is solid and up-to-date: black breaks, comfortable chairs and massive wooden black tables.
The menu feels like light Mediterranean breeze: focaccia, Carpaccio, raw Tahini, fresh fish and seafood, meats and grilled vegetables, spice herbs – you get the concept. Add a rich bar and wine list, and you get a restaurant that serves its guests fresh, light food and alcohol.
While we were browsing the menus, we started with some hot garlic focaccia, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I often find myself staring at the wonderful shapes the 2 of these create together); and tomato salsa with green chili pepper paste. What a wonderful way to stir up the appetite. We toasted 2 glasses of red wine – Woodbridge Merlot for my friend, and Zora, Yehuda mountains blend 2010 for me. It was deep, fruity and spiced, and I enjoyed it very much, especially as I was listening to stories about Tiruvannamalai - the spiritual center of South India.
Our first course was a sirloin Carpaccio, because, hey, it's not easy watching cows for an entire month without biting your teeth into one. Martha's Carpaccio was made Com il Faut – just right. Precise dosages of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and parmesan, that don't steal the thunder away from the fine sirloin.
When it was time to get to our main courses, I was hearing horror stories about violent elephants in south India, so we moved to the fish and seafood department. Fresh salmon fillet, that was made juicy, was served with rose sauce and an exciting selection of grilled vegetables – green beans, onions, tomatoes, carrots and others. But the star of the night was definitely the seafood gnocchi – a generous, rich dish of gnocchi, shrimps and calamari, in cream and curry sauce. The touch of curry gave this meal a wonderful twist, taking it to exotic sites. Or maybe it was just a metaphor of us – chubby middle aged explorers.
We finished up with a very good apple crumble. In case you haven't noticed, the crumble is making a comeback. I keep running into it in restaurants, and it's all for the best, because it is homemade, fresh and healthy. Martha's in particular is made with dough crumbs on top and vanilla ice cream scoop on the side, and I took a sweet ride home.