Last week my brother and I dropped back into Martins West for a bite. Unlike our first visit in May 2009 before the liquor license, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6188... , the place was nearly full on a Thursday night. As part of SF Beer Week, three dishes were paired with special beers.
But first we had an order of the Scottish eggs, $6, one of our favorites from before. The trio of sausage-encased quail eggs looked smaller than before. Well, actually two were smaller and one was notably larger. We shared the larger one and agreed that it was better than the other one we’d eaten. Its thicker layer of sausage didn’t get lost in the other flavors and the yolk was cooked less.
Then the oxtail tortelloni, $12, which despite the plural usage of the menu turned out to be a single, huge tortellono. The pasta itself was too stiff and tough around the square corners. Good flavor, although my brother found the washed rind Chimay cheese component overpowering. I felt the cheeses complexity took the richness of the oxtail and cocoa way over the top in a good way. We both agreed that the sticky saucing, a gelatinous and intensely flavored reduction of meat juices in combination with the melted cabbage was actually the best part of this dish. I had a glass of the 2008 Mayfield Brewing Company Iconoclast "Eclat" American Oak Wine Barrel Aged IPA , $8, the selected beer pairing, described here.
The American oak influence was actually less pronounced than I expected and worked well to take the edges off the beer’s bitterness for me. It did cut through the richness of the beefy flavors quite well.
We sprang for the five-selection of house-made charcuterie for $28 (vs. $35 ordered singly). The blood pudding, studded with oats or some other grain, was our favorite of the bunch. Quite mild in flavor, this really sang with the housemade mustard (presented as a quenelle on the board). We also really liked the chicken rillettes presented in a Euro-style glass canning jar with gasket under a layer of golden chicken fat. The country style pork pate’ was also fine, if somewhat common. The rabbit sausage was rather bland, and surprisingly, we found the oxtail terrine flat and boring. Both of these were improved a great deal by the excellent housemade pickles that accompanied the selection. The salting level for these was quite moderate and the serving temperature just a bit cooler than the room was perfect to savor the flavors. The thinly slices of toasted baguette were refilled as needed.
My favorite dish was the grilled octopus salad, $12. Very tender with just a bit of resistance, the octopus was combined with slabs of sweet and waxy fingerling potatoes and some baby frisee. The emulsified juices dribbled over would have made a Galician chef proud. William liked the dish, but he said that B&B’s in Las Vegas gets more smoke flavor into the octopus.
We ended with a revisit to the sticky toffee pudding, $9, we’d liked so much before. Served warm, the pudding core was not as moist and gooey as I remembered, but we appreciated the bigger slab of honeycomb on the plate.
As noted in another thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6828... , the front lounge room where we were seated was quite loud. Yet, we had no trouble carrying on a conversation across the table. Quite a contrast to the deserted cave feeling of our first time here. I like the food and I’m happy to see Martins West doing so well.
831 Main Street, Redwood City, CA 94063