A quick glance at the The Martin Hotel‘s dinner menu is a bit sobering for the frugal road tripper. Thirty-two bucks for lamb shank, $28 for a full rack of ribs. But those plate-filling main courses are well into the future should you decide to sit down at a long, shared table in this Basque-style restaurant in Winnemucca, Nevada (Note: There’s a strong Basque presence in northern Nevada, thanks to long-ago gold mining and sheep herding immigrants).
For starters, there’s soup and salad, along with a basket of bread. Then arrive little dishes of green beans, mashed potatoes and chorizo. Did I mention, the server plunks down a carafe or two of included red wine for the table? All this is mere preamble to the table-shuddering mains, along with an overflowing plate of fries. Oh, there’s bread pudding or maybe ice cream for dessert. Hope you crawled through the mountain desert for three days to prepare for this extravaganza.
There seems no getting around this all-in, very popular, menu. But I manage to sweet talk my way into ordering just a side dish of that Basque specialty, tongue ($7), plus a few furtive sips of wine.
And I must say, it kinda tastes like…. beef stew. Lots of tender, thin slices of tongue in a rich sauce; must be more than one critter’s mouth parts sacrificed for the cause.
As I leave, a bartender shouts out: “How was the tongue?” “Cat got it.”
As for the rest of the full-fledged customers, suffice to say no one staggers away hungry. Not sure they all stagger away.
The Martin Hotel
94 West Railroad Street, Winnemucca, Nevada
Lunch weekdays 11:30 am-2 pm, dinner daily 4 pm-9 pm