One of Marietta’s local heroes is Gus Tselios, a fellow whose group owns four restaurants in the area. The world-famous Marietta Diner is the flagship of his empire, and the others are Pasta Bella, the Cherokee Cattle Company and the Marietta Fish Market, which opened in December 2008. There’s absolutely no way that anybody in Atlanta can even be a quasi-serious foodie and not come to Cobb County to try out at least one of these places.
The basic gist of the restaurants is family dining, with an emphasis on freaking enormous portions. You can usually expect to spend $20 a head here, but your Jackson will buy you one supper and at least one leftover lunch. All four restaurants have menus so thick that they’ll probably stop a bullet, but the secret is simple: order from the specials. On the inside front cover of each menu, there’s an inserted page typed up that day. Unless you’re really in the mood for a standard, as I admittedly often am, you just want to focus on the one page. What Tselios and his chefs have concocted for that page will probably knock you on your backside.
All four restaurants are usually pretty packed – there’s a wait at the Diner 24/7 – but we decided to brave the Fish Market Friday night. Even at 8 pm there was a forty minute wait, but Marie’s brother was in town, and, observing Lent, wanted fish for supper. Frankly, Atlanta does not have very many seafood restaurants worth visiting, so our options were, flatly, accept a long wait or brave the drive-thru at Captain D’s. The Fish Market, happily, is just five minutes up the road and worth the wait.
Friday evening, I was in the mood for a standard – shrimp and scallops. The Fish Market has a “lighter appetite” section on their menu, where you get about half the food for two-thirds of the price. It’s not the most economically sensible policy unless you’re just trying to save a couple of bucks, and things admittedly are a little tight. Besides, they still give you so darn much as to provide leftovers for Saturday night. So I had fried baby shrimp and grilled scallops over dirty rice with cole slaw, following some pretty good fried green tomatoes and zucchini fries that we all shared and a Greek salad. Normally, we don’t splurge on appetizers, but Karl was in town, and it’s usually very difficult for Marie and I to resist any kind of fried vegetable. Fried green beans are her particular kryptonite. I don’t know that I’ve had zucchini prepared like this before. A basket is big enough for four, and those are darn tasty.
My plate would have been perfectly satisfactory had Marie not ordered from the specials. She had the red beans and rice with jumbo shrimp, and friends, you’ve never had it this good. The beans are cooked in this unbelievably good sauce, very tangy and sweet. I was pilfering beans and sausage all night just to let that sauce roll around on my tongue. Karl also ordered from the specials, and had a whole red snapper brought out on a huge platter and a bed of sauteed vegetables. He made out just fine, too.
The only member of our group not to be totally satisfied with supper was my daughter, who keeps claiming that she doesn’t actually like seafood despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, and, sighing, got an order of chicken strips from the kids’ menu. To be honest, these weren’t all that great, but they were the biggest chicken strips I’ve ever seen and could clobber your next door neighbor into unconsciousness, and frankly anybody who’d order chicken in the Fish Market probably could stand to be walloped upside the head with one herself. But that’s okay; the next good meal we’d share was one that she requested.
Other blog posts about Marietta Fish Market: