I wish I had a beautiful header picture of this place, but whereas I have gotten better about snapping pictures of my food before I eat it, I have yet to master taking pictures of the exterior before driving away. I also assume there will be a photo online, but I have yet to find a decent looking one of the Marathon Grill and Ale House – probably because it is tucked away in the corner of a strip mall (!). Yes, I was warned by Cory who recommended this place that I will ask myself, “am I in the right place?” when I went to look for it and that is exactly what I did as I passed nail salons and pet stores. But Cory, who plays with his band up and down the lower keys in restaurants (live music being a huge feature of key life), told us that they had BOGO entrees and ridiculously good drink deals between 4 and 6 pm.
I hesitated to order their happy hour white wine (although it is always encouraging when the menu lists the different types of wine instead of “house white”), but the bartender talked me into it and soon enough I was sipping a delicious white chardonnay for $3! Mr. Foodie tried three beers and loved them all, but his favorite was a Bells Amber. I ordered the chicken marsala which came with mashed potatoes and creamy carrots. Mr. Foodie ordered the seafood fa diavolo because he loves the mussels version at the Wharf on Summerland. This one had clams, lobster, mussels, shrimp, and scallops – all on a bed of perfectly cooked pasta. It was the show-stopper dish of the night. The sauce was incredibly addicting. I kept reaching over to taste it again and again. Mr. Foodie indulged my love of lobsters and mussels by putting morsels on our bread plate for me to try. With all this mini-lobstering going on, I have been craving lobster like a son of a gun, but Lobsterfest (which takes place in Key West) doesn’t happen until August.
My dish was good for the wrong reasons – namely the sides were the best part. The carrots were so creamy and rich that I only ate half and the mashed potatoes were freaking delicious. I was more than happy to polish those off. My chicken, on the other hand, was rubbery and the sauce was just too thick – not being an expert on marsala, I couldn’t tell you what it lacked or had too much of, just that it tasted like eating drapes on a rubber ball. Whereas the sauce flavor wasn’t bad, the texture was problematic. Still, the other dishes made up for that and our stuffed-mouthed exclamations of pleasure drew the attention of our bar seat-mates with whom we struck up a conversation about the food there (they were locals) and a myriad of other things like comparing the weather in the mid-Atlantic to here. Throughout the whole experience our bartender was attentive and pleasant. My seatmate told us that the place becomes a disco at night.
All in all it was another fun Marathon key foodie adventure. We’re off to taste the best fried chicken in the keys and for another boating adventure, so stay tuned!