James Martin has had his share of ups and downs in the restaurant business; right now, he’s on top, but don’t think for a minute that he is resting on his laurels! As the chef/owner of the highly successful 85 Main in the heart of Putnam, Connecticut James is constantly challenging himself and his staff to find new ways to delight his dedicated customers. 85 Main opened its doors in 2005 where the freshest ingredients and cooked to order menu items take center stage. You will also find a raw bar offering several oyster varieties as well as a full sushi bar. Don’t ever tell James he “can’t” do something. If it’s something he believes in, it will happen, no matter the enormity of the challenges he’s faced with. James’ incredible success can be attributed to his amazing conviction and the attention to detail he dedicates to every project.
James grew up spending time on his grandfather’s farm in Woodstock so a career in food came naturally to him. When he left the rigor of the restaurant business at one point to try the 9-5 life he was incensed when 5:00 came and he was told to go home. He saw that there was more to do so he wanted to keep working. This 9-5 endeavor was brief; he needed more on his plate so he returned to his hometown and got to work on his own venture, 85 Main. James does not accept things for what they are; he looks at something and figures out how to make it better. He works tirelessly to bring everything he is involved with to a higher level.
James is the principal organizer for the 3rd Annual 85 Main Shuck-Off oyster shucking competition and seafood celebration scheduled for May 1. Sure he was told that he would never be allowed to host the festival in the park, sure he was told they never allow any alcoholic beverages in the park…did someone say “can’t…never”? The festival will be held in Rotary Park this year with the support of the community of Putnam. Visitors can enjoy shrimp, mussels, clams, fritters, oysters, margaritas, draft beer, wine and sangria while listening to music and watching some of the best oyster shuckers in the area compete for over $850 in cash and prizes.
When James is not at the restaurant or judging an oyster shucking competition he might be found on the soccer field or possibly spear fishing. Fish doesn’t come any fresher than when James filets and serves his own catch of the day. Most of all James enjoys spending quality time with his wife, Carly and their two children, Taylor and Julian. If you want to see an instant twinkle in his eye just ask James about Taylor’s most recent dance performance, or Julian’s last soccer game.
We are privileged to provide this self-proclaimed “oyster junkie” with his daily fix!
Native Oysters Sashimi Style as prepared by Chef/Owner James Martin
Noank or Whale Rock Oysters (From the Mouth of the Mystic River)
w/ Ponzu, Tobiko, Togarashi, Wasabi, Pickled Ginger & Scallion
12 Carefully Shucked Oysters
½ Cup Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)
½ Teaspoon Togarashi (Japanese Chili Powder Blend)
1 Teaspoon Wasabi Paste (Japanese Horseradish)
½ Teaspoon Pickled Ginger
1 Green Onion or Scallion, Cut Very Thinly on Bias
1 Lemon Wedge (Seeds removed if possible)
Directions: Yields 4 Servings
Carefully Shuck Oysters leaving belly of Oyster unpierced. Mix Soy Sauce and Orange Juice in mixing bowl.
Place a small pile of Red Tobiko atop each of the twelve shucked Oysters. Add one dash of togarashi or substitute cayenne pepper. Roll small ball of Wasabi Paste and place on Oyster (use discretion). Finely chop Pickled Ginger and place a few small pieces upon each Oyster. Do the same for Scallion and follow with a light squeeze of Lemon. Finally, spoon the Citrus-Soy mixture over each Oyster and enjoy.