Marti's Restaurant

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Marti’s inherits a long history at the corner of Rampart and Dumaine

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When Gautreau’s Patrick Singley opened Marti’s this month, he adopted a name famous in the history of New Orleans restaurants. He also took over a location that has been home to some of our city’s most celebrated chefs.

In the early 20th century, the 24-hour oyster bar Gentilich’s was on the corner Rampart and Dumaine Streets. The original Marti’s opened there in 1971. It was a favorite of the French Quarter Bohemians, and Tennessee Williams was a regular. Later, the restaurant Peristyle would takeover and become the stage for a string of talented chefs: John Neal, Anne Kearney and finally Tom Wolfe.

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Marti’s, the French Quarter bistro, earns Three Beans: New Orleans restaurants review

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Marti’s is a new restaurant with an old soul. Literally. The soul belongs to a long-shuttered restaurant, also called Marti’s, that operated at the same French Quarter address where the new incarnation opened in October. The concept is only confusing on paper. It’s much more straightforward viewed from a table or barstool: an upgraded neighborhood bistro over-populated with diners delighted to spend an evening chasing ghosts.

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The restaurant on Dumaine Street is worth a visit.

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I never dined at Marti’s during its first incarnation. My first meal there was at Peristyle, during Anne Kearney’s tenure. It was a more intimate place then, or at least that’s how I remember it. While I’m sure the change in décor brings the place more in line with what Marti’s looked like in the 1970s, the Art Deco touches leave me a little cold.

Fortunately, the food and the service were more than enough to make up for any discomfort I felt about the renovation. We ate early, which meant we were the first table seated on a Wednesday night, and that’s how it stayed for about an hour. It definitely felt empty, but not uncomfortably so.

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Fresh Local Foods and Seasonal Delicacies

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Marti’s Restaurant is sometimes referred to as the Sardi’s of New Orleans. (Maybe someday Sardi’s will be referred to as the Marti’s of New York ….) The restaurant is situated near the Municipal Auditorium and Quarter nightspots, and is patronized mainly by the colorful theatre crowd.

You enter the restaurant at 1041 Dumaine. To get to the dining room, you snake your way through the people and memorabilia in the bar. In the evenings an effervescent, swashbuckling maitre d’ will guide you.

Once seated, you may order from the menu or check the daily specials posted on the blackboards. No matter what you order, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed, since Marti’s concept if to present to their patrons fresh local foods and seasonal delicacies.

The Stuffed mushrooms are a toothsome appetizer. Two large hollowed mushrooms caps are filled with crabmeat. They are heated and topped with an excellent rich hollandaise sauce. The Oysters on the Half Shell are among the best in the city.

Marti’s serves a savory Crabmeat Bisque. This soup alone is enough to make a trip to Marti’s worthwhile. It is available by the cup or the bowl. The Turtle Soup with Sherry may be the most succulent presentation of turtle meat in New Orleans since Commander’s Palace stopped cooking Soft Shell Turtle Stew.

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