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Martha‘s Leelanau Table

Al Parker - October 5th, 2009
A Taste of Europe in Suttons Bay

By Al Parker 10/5/09

Martha Ryan wipes her hands on her crisp white apron, hoists plates of still-warm pastries in both hands and pauses from her busy duties to give credit to her year-old restaurant’s bustling staff.
“I have a great team here,” says Ryan, owner and operator of Martha’s Leelanau Table Café, a non-smoking restaurant housed in a remodeled 107-year-old residence on Suttons Bay’s main drag, St. Joseph Street.
Helping Ryan run the European-style café are her son Matt who does some cooking and daughter-in-law Rachell who runs the front. Especially busy these days are pastry chefs Susan McConnell, a longtime friend, and Daniela Weiner, an Austrian native and recent graduate of the Illinois Institute of Arts culinary arts program.
For 20 years Ryan was the food service director for Leland Schools. In summers she served meals at a number of Leelanau County restaurants, including Hattie’s, Thyme Out and the Homestead. In her spare time she did some catering.

MADE FROM SCRATCH
For at least five years, Ryan and McConnell dreamed of operating their own place. In 2007, they found the location and had the building remodeled to suit their needs. They opened in July 2008.
“Our goal is to serve the very best local and seasonal produce, meats, dairy and farm products available,” says Ryan. “Supporting eco-friendly and sustainable agriculture, we proudly offer the freshest, tastiest produces and foods from local family-run businesses in Leelanau County and the surrounding region. Everything we do is made from scratch.”
Martha’s opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast and offers an impressive array of egg dishes, including the Happy Rooster, an open-face bacon and egg sandwich layered on Italian sourdough with pesto, tomato, arugula and shredded parmesan ($9).
Hearty appetites may want to tackle the M-22, three eggs with potatoes, onions, greens, Leelanau cheese and a strip of bacon topped with sour cream, ($9) while lighter eaters can savor the Side Splitter, one egg, one piece of toast and one strip of bacon ($4.50).
Highlights of the lunch menu include tasty homemade soups made fresh each day ($3 a cup or $6 a bowl), Cherry Chicken Salad on a bed of greens with dried cherries and pecans ($6 or $10.50 for a large) and an assortment of hot panini sandwiches ($6.50-$9).
Ryan has also prepared a “Bistro Menu” that will feature “small plate” items served from 3 to 5 p.m. Specials will include “Martharita Mondays” and “Fat Tuesdays.”

WEEKEND DINNERS
On Fridays and Saturdays, from 5 to 9 p.m., Martha’s offers dinner entrees, including Leelanau Raclette served with roasted potatoes, pickles and toasted bread ($12), Creamy Risotto with fresh asparagus, seasonal mushrooms and parmesan ($15), Roasted Pork Tenderloin with rhubarb/cherry chutney and mashed red skin potatoes ($18), Hanger Steak with red wine reduction and red skin potatoes ($19) and Pan-Seared Salmon with steamed spinach and tomato concasse ($22). All entrees are served with a small house salad.
The restaurant has a liquor license, so customers can enjoy their meals and sample a variety of area wines, along with hard liquor.
“We spent at least a year planning recipes and preparing the menu,” she says. “And Susan has done an amazing job as our pastry chef. She’s particular about everything she does.”
McConnell brings impressive credentials as a pastry chef. She’s studied advanced pastries at the Culinary Institute of America and graduated from advanced pastry programs at the French Pastry School in Chicago.
Her talents are reflected in the ever-changing array of tasty treats available at Martha’s. Menu items on one recent day included Apple Caramel Tarts, Cherry Crumbles, Pot de Crème, Biscotti, Pecan Rolls, a Serbian strudel pie called Gibanica and a new item – a Campfire Cupcake.
“Daniela came up with the Campfire Cupcake, which is like a s’more,” explains McConnell.
“The fun comes in the making,” adds Weiner. “It just depends on what we are in the mood for. If you don’t have a passion for it, you’re in the wrong business.”
Depending on the day and the pastry chefs’ mood, customers may also find Black Forest Cakes, Cheese Cakes or Tea Cakes available.
“We don’t have any set menu,” says McConnell, who likes to add extra touches to her pastries by picking her own violets, candying them, and adding as a garnish to an already impressive plate. “You gotta make it fun.”

Martha’s Leelanau Table Café, at 413
St. Joseph St., is open Mon. – Sat. 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
and Sun. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Open for dinner on
Fri. and Sat. 5 to 9 p.m. For more information go to www.marthasleelanautable.com or call
(231) 271-2344.

 
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