Superior Cajun Cuisine for the Frugal Diner
In the past month, I've heard rave reviews from friends about a new Martinsburg restaurant called Fat Tuesdays, a New Orleans-style restaurant specializing in Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Located in a large former bar at 1112 North Queen Street with ample parking, Fat Tuesdays (English for "Mardi Gras") has been open since January, boasting "All Homemade Recipes, using All Fresh Products." Co-owners Jason Bloom and Jim Wright have been in the restaurant business before in neighboring Virginia, but this is their first Mountain State enterprise.
I recently dined there with a guest. After learning about the restaurant and taking our questions about the wide range of Cajun-style menu selections, Fat Tuesday's personable manager, Kyla, left us to our deliberations.
The menu has a wide array of dishes from which to choose. One can order the quintessential Cajun and Creole dishes, but there are also options for individuals who prefer to avoid the spicier side of this type of cuisine. My guest is accustomed to spicy food, being a native of Indonesia.
As a result, she also loves seafood. So her choice of Shrimp Creole seemed a perfect entrée for her. As for me, I had a tough choice between a Mesquite-grilled New York strip or the "Black and Blue" strip steak, "dredged" in blackened seasoning, char-grilled, and broiled in a blue cheese dressing. The latter just sounded too exotic to miss, so I opted for it. Incredibly, both these usually expensive dishes were offered for only $14.95. We also ordered a New Orleans side-dish favorite, red rice and beans, for us to share.
We had skipped a very tempting array of Cajun-style appetizers to allow us to have some dessert later. We also shared throughout an exceptional margarita, truly tasty and refreshing on a sultry evening. When our food arrived, we were ready for a new culinary adventure, but Fat Tuesdays' co-owner/chef Jason Bloom blew us away. The Shrimp Creole was rich and spicy, the bright red tomato base broth surrounding the plump shrimp, filling our space with an aroma of Cajun spices.
My guest—who often thinks Americans' idea of spicy is decidedly tame—was immensely satisfied with her order. But her Shrimp Creole wasn't too spicy for my tastes, either. It was just plain flavorful, a true New Orleans delight.
But my dish competed well for Best of Show, too, featuring a sizable, sizzling New York Strip, served with the steak knife placed underneath the strip itself. What made the "Black and Blue" totally unique was the heavy coating of blue cheese dressing on top—heavy as in occasional chunks of blue cheese in this warm, whitish coating all across the top of the steak.
Frankly, it was so different from what I'm used to seeing that it took me aback at first. But as I lifted the steak knife from underneath the entrée, and gently cut through the layers of blue cheese and steak, I found that the blackened spices mixed in beautifully to bring everything together. The red rice and beans served as a perfect side dish, milder but still spicy enough to go along with the blackened steak and Shrimp Creole.
We had wisely saved a little room for dessert, so we ordered a slice of cake each: Red Velvet for me and Pina Colada for my dining partner. Again, we were overwhelmed, as the portions were huge. The Red Velvet seemed like a kind of cheesecake, a new twist on old favorite. But the Pina Colada white cake with sweet/ tart pineapple filling was to die for—a perfect, light touch to end the evening.
As we were about to leave, Fat Tuesday's manager, Kyra, told us that one of the most common remarks the owners and staff hear from customers about this colorful place is that their restaurant has filled a needed gap in the local culinary scene.
After our little trip to New Orleans via North Queen Street, we couldn't agree more! The Cajun cuisine, exceptional service, and reasonable prices were all a real find. Clearly, owners Jason Bloom and Jim Wright are going for a long-term relationship with their patrons, as evidenced by their reasonable prices.
Fat Tuesdays should also be a point of pride for our growing area. Martinsburg and the Eastern Panhandle have evolved to a point where a specialty restaurant, one that formerly would be available only in a larger city somewhere else, is now flourishing right here.
For more information about Fat Tuesday's, including the lively regional bands they host on the weekends, check out their website at: www.fattuesdayswv.com. Or follow them on Facebook.