Martine’s had long since established itself as a go-to place for pastries and cakes for special occasions from a location on Industry Road when earlier this year the business moved to Lexington’s East End.
With the move, Martine’s opened a lovely café so, even if you don’t hanker for a delicious cake shaped like a guitar or football stadium or one celebrating Darwin Day (take a look at the website!), you can go to Martine’s for a delicious breakfast, brunch or lunch. The shop has a limited menu with occasional specials that showcase fresh and local ingredients prepared thoughtfully.
For breakfast one day I tried the buttermilk chive biscuit ($5.25) a really nice version of the classic sausage biscuit. At Martine’s this becomes a serving of Stone Cross Farm’s very tasty sausage served on a flaky, chive-infused biscuit that’s glazed with a bit of Kenny’s white Cheddar cheese. Served on the side is a very tasty blueberry compote. Another day I tried the kale pesto grilled cheese ($6.75) with cup of fresh roasted tomato bisque with fresh basil olive oil ($3).
The bisque is very good — not completely velvety, there are little bits of tomato and onion that add texture to the rich and smooth flavors. The grilled cheese, again using Kenny’s white Cheddar was good and, for someone more in love with rich comfort food it would have been a perfect Kentucky gray, cold winter day treat.
For me, the kale roasted almond pesto wasn’t quite enough of a contrast to the rich melted cheese. I wanted, if not on the sandwich at least on the side a pickle or a crisp slice of cucumber or even fresh perhaps slightly braised kale on the sandwich. To be sure, I ate it all and enjoyed it but I think I would have enjoyed it more if there had been a little hint of something to crunch on to go with it.
More to my liking was the roasted chicken salad sandwich ($8.95). Here, Martine’s has created a successful combination of chicken (nice sized pieces, not those little mysterious crumbles you sometimes get) dressed with enough but not too much mayonnaise and accented with cranberries, celery, shallots and herbs de Provence and served on a tasty, lightly toasted understated white bread from Sunrise Bakery (give Martine credit, she’s a baker for sure but stays focused on the dessert items that are her signature and leaves the breads to an expert.)
The whole of this sandwich comes out to a satisfying mixture of the sweet (not too much with the cranberries) and savory, the crunchy and soft. I thought it was very good.
A little peculiar was the vegetable frittata ($6.75) which was served more like dumplings in a large soup container. The flavors were fine — good ingredients are evident at every turn here — but the texture and presentation seemed a little odd. Frittata, as the name suggests, indicates something fried or at least broiled but this had more the texture of a poached egg.
Desserts. Martine’s is after all primarily a pastry shop, a place where you can see elegant cakes made and decorated (one lunch time my companions and I saw Viking-themed cakes set to grace a wedding table) on site. Everything is beautiful and, if my samples are any indication, good. I’ve tried the pistachio cannoli — very good — and the chocolate pot au crème, very rich and sure to please chocolate lovers. They are not cheap but, let me tell you, they are rich and one of any of these can easily be shared between two people as a dessert.
If you go to Martine’s during the holidays — and I’d recommend that — be sure to go upstairs to see the show by artist Chris Huestis. It’s good to take a look at the second floor anyway where you can sit and eat your sandwich or pastry and have a quiet meeting or conversation if the downstairs is too busy. With abundant natural light and plenty of seating it’s a very welcoming spot and shows Huestis’ engaging and challenging work to advantage.
Martine’s Pastries and Café
Where: 400 East Third Street
Hours: 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
More info.: (859) 231-9110, Martinespastries.com
Payment: Major credit cards, vegetarian options