Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dining With Martin

Martin's Coffee Shop is a small and unremarkable looking nook on 25 Harvard Street in Brookline Village. Despite appearances, it promises a variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods, although its staple is the breakfast assortment. This largely unrecognized diner is one of my favorite finds in the city. The fare is low, there is a large array of dishes to choose from, and the staff is friendly and accommodating.

I'm a huge proponent of diners. They serve cheap and predictable dishes, but that's kind of why you venture there in the first place. What you're really looking for is the quality of said cheap and predictable dishes, and at this establishment I have never left less than satisfied. Martin's is a quiet, undecorated gem in an area that mainly houses expensive boutiques and restaurants. Family owned and run, Martin's is cash only, but there are several different bank ATMs located within walking distance.

Upon entry, you are warmly greeted by the owner: Martin himself. He bears a diminished Italian accent and banters playfully with his employees as he gets you seated, either directing you to one of the tables that line the wall and cluster in the back, or at the long gleaming counter top that faces the kitchen. One valued asset of most diners is that you can watch your food being made, and here the cooks seem to relish the attention as they flip pancakes and fry eggs. If it's not too crowded, they might even engage you in idle conversation as they prepare your meal.

With the exception of the well-planned Breakfast Specials, the early-day dishes do not land over $10 in price; Breakfast Specials aren't priced over $12, for that matter. Their appeal – aside from the massive volume of food you will receive – merges both the authenticity of different ethnic breakfast staples as well as quirky names that fit the content of the dish. The Irish Breakfast, for example, features 3 eggs, Irish bacon and sausage, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans, black and white pudding, homefries, and toast. The Eiffel Tower, a customer favorite, consists of 3 eggs, ham, bacon, homefries and 2 pancakes with fresh fruit. The pancakes are this dish – and the restaurant's – winning trait. They are fluffy and thick, and can come loaded with your choice of fresh fruits, nuts, chocolate or even breakfast meat. French toast plates are served with similar delectable flair.

Martin's also makes a mean omelette, which is usually my diner meal routine. That or Eggs Benedict, and at Martin's they are heavy on the hollandaise, and offer seven alternative versions of the plate besides traditional style. The homefries are of the perfect texture, and cooked with onions. The restaurant radiates the sizzle of fresh cooked breakfast and brunch.

Although I have only elaborated on breakfast, there are also a great number of equally cheap and tasty sounding dinner and lunch entrees, which you can browse through at If you desire a relatively cheap, quick meal that promises on-the-spot preparation, definitely take the drive or slightly long march down Harvard Street. They do not accept reservations and granted, the brunch hours are predictably a little busy, but it is unlikely that you will have to wait more than ten minutes before you sit. Share a quick hello with Martin and be kind to your waitresses, who are both sweet and compromising - so don't forget to tip well. Martin's is open from 7am to 4pm Monday through Thursday, 7am to 3pm on Saturdays, and 8am to 3pm on Sundays.

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