DINING: Maison Martinique – Will latest comeback bid succeed?

Is Maison Martinique, after several rocky years, poised for a comeback?

If the question sounds familiar, that may be because we’ve asked it before – only each time to be disappointed.

For years under the stewardship of the late Chef Yannick Martin, Maison Martinique was one of Vero’s top restaurants – a pricy place, to be sure, but certainly its classiest and arguably its best.

But a revolving door of chefs in recent years, coupled with inept management and diffident service, led to many expensive dining disappointments.

This past winter’s culinary and service debacle under Rip Tosun, a longtime Florida restaurateur brought out of retirement in a bid to restore Maison Martinique to its former glory, saw things instead hit a new low.

But a couple of months ago, Tosun brought in Chef Chet Parrotti and his wife, and went back into retirement. Unlike several of his predecessors in the Maison Martinique kitchen, Chef Chet is capable of producing very good dishes.

He had plenty of time to demonstrate this to us last week because when our party of four arrived for our reservation at 7:30, only two other couples were dining in the still attractive Bamboo Room. Ouch.

On this visit, we decided that my husband and I would sample Maison Martinique’s regular menu and its specials, and our two companions would order from the restaurant’s summer “Rip Tide” menu – which, at $27 and available all evening, appeared to be an extremely good dining value.

For starters, I decided to try the roasted beet salad ($12) and my husband opted for the oysters Rockefeller ($14), while our companions picked the soup of the day, a cream of tomato, and the balsamic house salad.

My salad consisted of roasted golden and red beets with sliced pears, almonds, goat cheese and drizzled with a red wine herbed dressing. Delicious. My husband’s oysters Rockefeller – beautiful blue points topped with fresh fennel and creamed spinach and baked with a parmesan crust – were wonderful.

The tomato soup was extremely tasty, and the tossed salad was a very nice mix of local greens with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and chick peas tossed with a gorgonzola balsamic dressing.

Then for entrées, I decided to have the diver scallops piccata ($36), my husband went for the catch of the day, pompano ($38), and from the five entrees on the Rip Tide menu, our companions chose the free range airline chicken breast and the bistro tenderloin. (They also could have opted for prime pork tenderloin, grilled dolphin, or a seafood strudel that sounded yummy.)

My large diver scallops, sautéed with white wine lemon butter and served over spinach with capers, were superb. And my husband’s pompano was perfectly prepared, served over risotto.

The two “Rip Tide” entrées also were very well done. The chicken breast was packed with a wild mushroom, leek fontina stuffing and served over pan-seared shaved Brussel sprouts with bacon topped with a whole grain mustard glaze. And the horseradish encrusted tenderloin was fire grilled and sliced, served medium rare as ordered, with mashed potatoes topped with a port wine demi glaze.

For dessert, we concluded with the house-made blueberry bread pudding.

Dinner for the two of us dining on the regular menu, together with a modest bottle of wine, came to $175 before tax and tip. But the evening for the two dining on the “Rip Tide” Menu – even with a couple of glasses of wine – would have come in more like $80. A good value indeed.

So since we seem to start and end Maison Martinique dining critiques lately with a question, here’s this week’s: Can an improvement in the dishes being offered, and an attractively priced summer menu, bring enough old fans and new diners to this romantic restaurant to enable the latest attempt at a comeback to succeed?

Stay tuned.

I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at tina@verobeach32963.com.

The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.

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