Thunderbird Café is chef’s lifelong dream

Published on Wed, Jul 27, 2011
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After cooking for Hollywood stars at the Playboy Mansion and on movie sets in Los Angeles, Jeff Martin is now cooking for a different crowd at the reopened Thunderbird Café in Birch Bay.

“It’s been a lifelong dream for my wife and I to open our own restaurant,” Martin said. “When we first laid eyes on this property we just fell in love with it. It has such good energy, and it just feels comfortable, like home.”

The 40-seat restaurant has a relaxed, cozy ambience with funky furniture, beach art on the walls and a mixture of inviting, overstuffed armchairs and tables and chairs.

The menu features breakfast foods like brioche French toast with local berries, poached eggs with lemon champagne vinaigrette and frittata with local morel mushrooms. Lunch includes fish tacos with chipotle-lime cream and couscous, handmade burgers, quiche and salads. Monthly prix fixe dinners will be announced soon as well.

“Everything is made from scratch, using local products from the Northwest,” said the 40-year-old chef, who will be smoking his own fish out back.

“This is a very family-oriented restaurant and when they come in, we want people to feel like they’re being welcomed by friends,” added Martin’s wife, Madonna.

Martin is a 23-year veteran of the food industry whose resume includes stints as a private chef for Hugh Heffner at the Playboy Mansion in 1997, preparing gourmet cuisine aboard a private yacht and catering on movie sets in Hollywood. Martin and his wife Madonna moved their family to Anacortes in 2008, where he ran Anacortes’ Majestic Hotel from 2008 to 2010.

The restaurant has a number of outdoor seating opportunities the couple hopes to develop further, Madonna said.

“We want to open it up for coffee, and when we have warmer days we will be seating an area for 10 out there,” she said, adding that a dessert and espresso bar is in the works. A deck in front of the restaurant will offer another outdoor seating area.

The Thunderbird Café is located at 8124 Birch Bay Drive and can be reached at 360/746-8474. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Private parties are welcome.