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 Madison Dining Online Spotlights Blue Marlin
Madison, Wisconsin's Internet Restaurant and Dining Guide

Blue Marlin
101 North Hamilton Street
Madison, WI  

Lunch: Tuesday   -   Friday
Dinner:    Tuesday   -   Sunday

The Blue Marlin restaurant, a downtown Madison institution since itís inception, is a small, intimate restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere.

Stepping into the restaurant, the first noticeable aspect is the size. The Blue Marlin is not large.  The tables are situated closely together, making truly private conversations a bit difficult to achieve.  Due to the high ceilings and a wall made of stone, acoustics are not at their best.  The restaurant, however, still manages to be cozy and comfortable despite that.  Our party of five was seated immediately next to the bar.  This made the staff traffic a bit heavy at times surrounding the table.  This didnít detract terribly from the dining experience.

Our party was made up of varying degrees of four fish aficionados,  as well as one fairly rabid landlubber who prefers a well turned steak. After perusing the menu, it was apparent that while the choices were plentiful for the seafood fans, the steak lover was going to have a difficult time finding choice of dishes. 

The menu was comprised of a variety of delights for those who relish seafood, with the barest hint of a nod to those who do not.  Lobster, Alaskan King Crab, Sea Bass, Swordfish, Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, Mahi and Grouper all adorned the menu, which appeared to change daily dependant on the fresh catches available.  The sole concession to those who are not interested in seafood was a Carpetbagger Steak.  This was only a cursory concession, as the steak was prepared stuffed with oysters.

Our party ordered a variety of dishes, including Live Main Lobster, Swordfish, Atlantic Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, and the Carpetbagger Steak, sans oysters.  Judging from the fact that the server did not blink when asked if the steak could be served without the seafood addition, one would assume that this is a common request.

The wine list was adequate, though necessity dictated that it be biased towards white varieties and other seafood friendly types.  We chose a personal favorite, a bottle of Qupe Syrah.  Dinner was preceded by a choice of soup, or a vinaigrette or ceasar salad.  Crusty sourdough dinner rolls also were served.  The salads ranged from adequate to good, and the bread was a bright spot, crusty and flavorful.

The serving staff was attentive and efficient, and conversation flowed freely as we were served leisurely but pleasantly.

When dinner was served, the Live Main Lobster drew murmurs of appreciation from all, aside from the landlubber.  Two pounds of grilled lobster, it was quite a spectacle.  Though it looked overwhelming, it was eaten with appreciation, and little was left by the end of the meal.

The Chilean Sea Bass was blackened, and served with lime yogurt and a mango papaya salsa.  It was moist and flaky, and a hit.  The grilled Atlantic Salmon, served with a cucumber dill sauce citrus marinated gulf shrimp provided a well appreciated flavor combination.  The Swordfish,  grilled with a black peppercorn sauce and served with a mignonette sauce was tender and delicious, one of the best cuts of swordfish experienced.  The Australian Carpetbagger Steak, sans oysters, was an eight ounce filet of beef, marinated in dark beer, olive oil, lemon, garlic, tabasco sauce and brown sugar.  For a joint that specializes in seafood, the quality of the steak was significantly more than adequate.

We can heartily recommend the Blue Marlin, particularly if your party is comprised of seafood lovers.  The prices are a bit steep, but completely reasonable for the quality received.  It would be wise to plan ahead and secure reservations, as the size of the restaurant guarantees that it will be seated to capacity.

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