I almost hesitate to write this review. Since Martini Brunch opened at the beginning of February, it has already become such a local favorite that it’s beginning to be hard to get a table. Still, everyone needs to know about this Skagit Valley gem.
A new enterprise from Charlie and Brooke Martin (known to their friends as “the Martinis”), this is the breakfast place Mount Vernon has been needing for years. Located south of downtown in a building that previously housed 2nd Street Deli & Dogs, the intimate space tends to fill up by 10:30 a.m. on weekends, but early birds can usually get their pick of tables. The restaurant does not take reservations, and it’s strictly 21 and older.
Martini Brunch is all about having fun. The music is cheerful, the staff is friendly, drinks are colorful, boozy and often glittery. Even the glassware is amusing; most of it thrifted by Brooke at a local shop. And the food is terrific, thanks to Charlie’s efforts in the kitchen.
The breakfast shot includes a shot of Jameson, served in a glass dipped in brown sugar and coarse salt, with a strip of crispy bacon and another shot glass full of freshly squeezed orange juice. (Photo by Jessamyn Tuttle)
Possibly the best thing here is the breakfast shot ($9). Hear me out on this — it’s a shot of Jameson, served in a glass dipped in brown sugar and coarse salt, with a strip of crispy bacon and another shot glass full of freshly squeezed orange juice. I don’t care how early it is, if you like whiskey then you have to try this. You’ll find yourself licking the outside of the glass to get every bit of salty-sweet goodness.
The “Little Nips” menu ($5 each) includes the PB&J shot, which tops peanut butter vodka with Skip Rock blackberry liqueur, then adds a strip of toast. There is also a full cocktail list ($9 each), including drinks like Tequila for Breakfast, with a spicy salt rim and a strip of spiced dried mango, and the Little Red, made with local citrus vodka and adorned with a Swedish fish. If all this sounds too much for breakfast time, nobody will pressure you, and rest assured the coffee is excellent and the juice is fresh-squeezed.
The drinks are great fun, but the food is fabulous. Start with an order of the epic honeycomb toast ($9) for the table. A fat slice of fluffy, locally made sourdough, served hot with loads of soft butter mixed with house-made honeycomb candy, this might make your eyes roll up in your head.
You can't go wrong with the eggs Benedict at Martini Brunch, whether the base is the standard prosciutto or avocado, or a special like smoked trout, pulled pork or fresh crab. (Photo by Jessamyn Tuttle)
Of the breakfast main dishes, I tend to succumb to whatever the weekend special happens to be, but you cannot go wrong with the eggs Benedict ($18). As I overheard a server saying, “Nobody makes bennies like Charlie,” and they might just be the best I’ve ever had. Whether the base is the standard prosciutto or avocado, or a special like smoked trout, pulled pork or fresh crab, they all include fresh English muffins with perfectly poached eggs, just the right amount of hollandaise, crispy potatoes and a fresh green salad. Thanks to this place, I have probably eaten more eggs Benedict in the last two months than I have in the last five years.
Another good bet is the crepe, which is served with preserves, syrup or a savory filling. (Photo by Jessamyn Tuttle)
I could also wax rhapsodic about the chicken and waffles, but since those have been taken off the menu temporarily I’ll stop there. Instead, get the “Brookefeast” plate ($17). An almost-classic-diner breakfast of poached or scrambled eggs, sourdough toast and fried potatoes, it adds a large dollop of spicy pulled pork and a bowl of giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables). It all works together unbelievably well, keeping you tasting back and forth between the eggs and potatoes to the spicy pork and vinegary vegetables. Other good bets are the crepe ($13), served with preserves, syrup or a savory filling, or the breakfast bowl ($13), an adaptable dish of potatoes available with either bacon or pulled pork, a poached egg, then either hollandaise or mushroom gravy. Make it your own!
Options for vegans and vegetarians include the diner burger, made with Beyond Meat and non-dairy cheese. The patty is thin and crispy with a beautifully charred edge, and the burger has all the fixings. (Photo by Jessamyn Tuttle)
If you’re there at lunchtime, or don’t mind eating sandwiches for breakfast, a whole lineup of good stuff awaits. The grilled cheese sandwich fried in duck fat ($13) is amazing, but I love the recently added “chicken in the buff” sandwich ($16), which is crunchy, spicy and rich with blue cheese and a creamy sauce.
You’ll also find a diner burger ($15), which even though it doesn’t say so on the menu is completely vegan, with Beyond Meat and non-dairy cheese, but it’s remarkably close to the real thing. The patty is thin and crispy with a beautifully charred edge, and the burger has all the fixings. The farm stand sandwich ($14) is another nice vegetarian/vegan option, and all sandwiches are available on gluten-free bread. They all come with your choice of salad, soup or “pudgy pommes,” which are just really good jojos.
In the end, it almost doesn’t matter what you order at Martini Brunch, you are sure to have a great time.
Martini Brunch is open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday in Mount Vernon at 1300 S. 2nd St. Info: 360-404-5915 or Facebook.com/MartiniBrunch.