Martin Wine Cellar Deli
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
When the deli urge hits, Martin Wine Cellar’s Deli immediately comes to my mind. It’s among the very few sandwich shops in New Orleans that understands the concept of New York-style deli sandwiches. And they’re equally adept at making New Orleans-style sandwiches. If you’re an avid winelover, you’re almost certain to encounter others of your happy ilk, often with bottles open on the table.
No sandwich maker in New Orleans buys better ingredients than Martin’s. Even in the details, everything is the best, and include some breads and meats I’ve never seen anywhere else. The deli’s kitchen prepares a big menu of salads, plate specials, soups, and desserts, and the breadth of their offerings seems to grow with every visit. One great bonus: you can use the whole store as a wine list, pay the retail price, and drink it with your meal without corkage charges.
In the 1970s, Martin Wine Cellar opened the first local New York-style deli of any significance. Originally, it was just a counter where you stood and ate your sandwich, but the spartan quality of the place eased over the years, as the menu grew as well. Now it’s as accomplished as any restaurant’s catering operation, with a tremendous menu. But you can still get one of the best deli sandwiches in town.
It’s self-service. Order and pick up at the counter, and hope that a table will be available (and cleaned up) by the time the food is ready. But this is not the fast food that such a setup suggests. Every sandwich and platter is made up to order with attention to detail. So you do have time to wander around the store checking out the wine racks while waiting.
BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomatoes)
»Bagel and cream cheese
Baronne beast (roast beef and ham poor boy)
»Garlic roasted pork loin (thin-sliced on onion roll)
Californian (turkey, havarti, avocado, sprouts, cucumbers, tomato, Creole mustard)
Cedric (thin-sliced chicken breast, Swiss, spinach, red onions, tomato)
»Executive club (triple-decker, turkey, ham, bacon, American cheese)
Real club (chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo)
»Deli deluxe (hot corned beef, pastrami, Swiss, Russian dressing, onion roll)
French connection (ham and swiss on croissant)
Grilled vegetable (squash, zucchini, portobello, tomatoes, spinach, Gruyere cheese, arugula, olive pesto)
»Lindy special (turkey, Swiss, coleslaw, tomato, Russian dressing)
»Mr Martin’s meatball sandwich with marinara on French
Smoked salmon BLT
»Mouthbuster (hot pastrami on choice of bread)
Reuben (hot corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on rye)
Roast beef: hot with gravy on French
»Roast beef: cold, choice of bread
»Smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onions, capers on bagel
»Steamboat (hot corned beef, ham, bacon, Swiss, onions, Creole mustard, onion roll)
»Uptowner (cold turkey, ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo, onion roll)
FOR BEST RESULTS
The daily plate specials here are unpredictable and very good. To hear a recorded message detailing what’s being served today, call 504-894-7408.
It’s hard to figure when the rush will come in, but if you see all the tables full, plan to be there awhile.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
One of these days, this excellent restaurant (I see they’re calling it a bistro now) will implement table service.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +2
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +3
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch
- Open Monday lunch
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
This is a busy time for Martin Wine Cellar, as people stream in to buy everything from Thanksgiving wines to gifts for the Christmas season. May as well have lunch while you’re there. The meats, breads, and dressings are all first-class, and the sandwiches are built to a jaw-dislocating thickness. They even offer Dr. Brown sodas, cheesecake, and pickles.
The blackboard of daily specials has become interesting, and the lines at the counter have grown longer.The larger Metairie location of the city’s dominant wine retailer has a deli capable not only of turning out a first-class sandwich, but also of cooking plated specials that rival what one might find in the best bistros around town.