101 North Hamilton Street
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
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 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
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.