Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” which not only is a celebration in New Orleans, it’s also a day when people are encouraged to stuff themselves before Lent.
It’s also a time when people in New Orleans are encouraged to let the good times roll.
On a recent trip to Fat Tuesdays Grille and Bar in Martinsburg, my guest, Martha Macaroon, and myself let the good times roll as we stuffed ourselves with good food.
The Eastern Panhandle is a long way from the Big Easy, but restaurant proprietors of Fat Tuesdays Grille and Bar have brought their Cajun flavor to West Virginia.
Located on the curve where Queen Street and Edwin Miller Boulevard seamlessly become one, Fat Tuesdays can be a little difficult to drive into and find a parking space in its small lot. But that’s where the disappointments end.
Martha Macaroon’s new gluten-free diet would be perfect to test the restaurant.
It was Friday night and Fat Tuesdays was hopping. Those who had been inside the building during its previous ownership would be surprised at its make-over. There are two ways to get inside the building. The first requires a few steps, the other is by way of a ramp so those with mobility issues can get into the building.
We were met by a waitress who seated us in a high-top table across from the large bar that seemed like a little wave in the center of the room. Warm wood tones were washed around the restaurant punctuated with booths and high-top tables that hugged the wall. Past the end of the bar was another small dining area with booths. In a corner beside the left-end of the bar was a small stage. I was amazed at how many people could fit into the space without feeling claustrophobic. On our way in we had also noticed an outside area that seemed to be more of a beer garden on the back deck, so there was room for even more.
Fat Tuesdays boasts that all of its menu items were made from scratch. A plus for Martha because she had to ask what ingredients were in certain items.
As we gave our drink orders, I studied the menu. It was just the right size for the grille and bar: not a novel and not just a list of burgers and wings.
Appetizers, ranged in price from $7.95 to market price for Cajun boiled shrimp and oysters on the half shell, and included Fats’ cheese fries and Oysters Bienville ($13.95); soup and salads, which included a Fats’ Gumbo (that I regrettably overlooked) for $4.95 to a grilled salmon salad for $12.95; Po’ Boys, which are sandwiches, included The Big Easy Po Boy ($8.95) to a Cajun Cheesecake and Shrimp Po’ Boy (both for $10.95).
Burgers and sandwiches ranged in price from $8.95 to $11.95 and included names such as The Rampart Street, which is a three-cheese burger, and The Ragin’ Cajun, their signature burger blackened and topped with Creole sauce and pepper jack cheese. Entrees included dishes that those who weren’t ready for Creole cooking could select from such as Chicken Chesapeake, which is a 10-ounce mesquite chicken breast served with no rice and topped with lump blue crab imperial, Monterey jack and bacon with a choice of side at $15.95.
Although it says “bar,” Fat Tuesdays is kid-friendly and welcomes families, which shows up on the menu section called For Little Ones, with items such as a kid’s burger and chicken fingers.
But the section I sought out was the Classic New Orleans. There were plenty of classics to choose from such as Andouille, Red Beans and Rice ($14.95) and Etoufee ($14.95), and one that seemed more like a wink to New Orleans, shrimp and scallop alfredo ($19.95).
All of the dishes made our mouths water. We decided to start out with the black and bleu scallops ($15.95). I added a salad with the homemade honey mustard dressing.
For the entree, I wanted something Cajun so I decided for Shrimp Creole. My dining companion wanted barbecue sauce and a burger, so she decided on The Bourbon Street, which included bacon, melted Swiss and Fats’ homemade barbecue bourbon sauce, sans the bun, with the salad as her option.
Our waitress was on point from the very beginning. My friend and I had ate at Fat Tuesdays before and sat at the bar and received lackluster service, but not this time. She kept us in her sight the whole time, filling glasses, keeping us updated on our order. My rule about dining is that I will patiently wait as long as my drink glass is kept filled. And she did.
First up was the black and bleu scallops. The large, fresh broiled sea scallops were drizzled with house-made bleu cheese and fresh bacon crumbles. The scallops were perfectly cooked. Although the cheese added a salty tang to the dish, it didn’t overpower. It would be a perfect dish to sip with a beer.
Next were the salads. Fresh veggies came in the salads, but the stars were the dressings. My honey mustard had the right combo of honey and mustard, with a nice dash of black pepper.
We waited a little while to get our food, and I wished they had served some type of bread to keep us from getting too hungry, but we didn’t mind as our waitress was super attentive and kept us updated.
Friday night at Fat Tuesdays means music so a local band was set up in the corner to serenade the diners. And when they played, it didn’t overpower the small bar. I hate when you have to scream at your guest over a meal.
At last the meals had arrived — and tres magnifique. My friend’s burger was prepared to her specifications with no bun. She said it was tasty, but felt like she needed more barbecue sauce or have the sauce on top of the cheese not underneath. The sauce was sweet and tangy — and delicious.
My Shrimp Creole was what I expected and more. Perfectly cooked rice was soaked in chunks of spicy tomatoes layered with plenty of Gulf shrimp. The shrimp were tasty and cooked to perfection. It was the right combination of heat and spice I was looking for. It was served with some grilled bread to dip into the rest of the tomato-peppery sauce. Yum.
I didn’t notice a dessert menu. Too bad, I was hoping for a beinet to top off my culinary cruise to New Orleans. As the evening wound down, we chatted for awhile, sipped our drinks and listened to the music.
A trip to Fat Tuesdays made me long for a trip to New Orleans, but it’s sure a great place to let the good times roll closer to home.
Gigi Gormet is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.