Philly food is so much more than cheesesteaks. Let us show you.
While it may not be news to anyone that the Fishtown/Kensington area has another hot bar, it may surprise some people as to the location—not on Frankford, not on Girard, but on York Street, away from both hot corridors and tucked back on Martha Street (hence the name). From the outside, you almost can’t tell there’s anything worth checking out in the building, as much of the façade has been left how it was found. Once inside, though, things change a bit.
Martha has a nice, clean interior that is much more spacious than it seems. And while the lighting inside wasn’t very good (a food writer’s nightmare, and the reason we have no food pictures), it made it easier to see the huge projected menu above the bar, which is made up almost solely of local beer and spirits. The food, however, seems tacked on as an afterthought.
Other than the local spirits list, we didn’t find much to be impressed about here—especially considering all the local hype the place has been getting. The beer list was pretty standard and the cocktails didn’t get any complaints, but the food was the real sticking point. If you’re going out for dinner, skip Martha and hit it up for a drink or two afterwards. There are some passable dishes, though, if you wanted to swing in for a light meal. And since much of the menu involves pickles, many of the dishes turn out vegan.
EAT YOUR FILL OF…
Ham Sammy – Of the three hoagies on offer, this one tasted the best (and was warm). The Vegan Jawn didn’t have a very good bread-to-filling ratio and was a bit dry, but the smoked apple mustard on the Ham Sammy really kicked this one up. Kensington Quarters country ham, Tallegio cheese, and braised red cabbage all helped make it a decent lunch sandwich (if they were open for lunch). Also includes a small handful of chips and a few pickles dropped on the plate as an afterthought.
Pastrami Beets – This was probably my favorite dish of the night, as it acted as a deconstructed Reuben. Along with the beets (which were smoked) was sauerkraut, caraway croutons, and a carrot 1000 Island schmear. Together it was good, but I couldn’t get enough of those smoky beets.
Pickle Boat – If you want to taste all the pickles, the boat is your best bet. It includes the pickled celery and fennel, pickled rutabaga, Moroccan carrots, and the house-made kimchee. The kimchee is appropriately spicy, but lacks the funk of authentic kimchee, and the Moroccan carrots didn’t have much of a flavor to them in general. The celery and fennel, however, were second best on the boat.