Marshall Free House opens in Greensboro

by Charles Womack

on my way to the newly opened Marshall Free House, I asked my wife if it would be crazy of me to order the Bread Pudding as my appetizer. She laughed, looked at me and said, “Why not?” To let you in on an inside joke, it is well known in a small group of friends that I had the dessert at an invitation-only, special menu dinner Marty Kotis put on at Darryl’s well over a year ago. Kotis owns Darryl’s and The Marshall Free House. Well, the “inside” part is this. Since that time, whenever anyone mentioned Marty or The Marshall Free House, I would bring up the pudding and how I couldn’t wait for the place to open.

When our party was seated, I held off on ordering my much-anticipated dessert first, and started with the Fish & Chips. The plate, customized with The Marshall Free House logo, came out with a huge piece of flaky haddock and of course, chips. Chips are the UK’s version of our French Fries for anyone who may not know. The dish also featured malted tarter and mushy peas. The mushy peas are exactly what they sound like, peas that have been mashed up into a mashed potato-type consistency.

The fish was great, hot and seasoned very well. The peas were also enjoyed.

Alex, my oldest son, also ordered the fish & chips and he too was pleased. He especially enjoyed various alcoholic beverages, including an Old Fashioned, which he said, seriously, was the best one he had ever had.

Middle son, Eric, was able to sample –for free I might add – several of the great beers they have on tap. The bartender let him do this until he found the one, or ones, he liked best. After talking beer and beer making with Kotis, he was so excited that he plans to get into home brewing.

My youngest son, Andrew, and my third to those who are counting, ordered the Short Ribs. It was served with a mushroom glaze, creamy grits, and prosciutto Brussels sprouts. He enjoyed it and especially favored the grits, which I was able to try and can confirm are very, very good.

On the décor, Kotis cut no corners. From the time he announced his plans in Feb. of 2012, until last week’s opening night, he has invested between $3 million to $4 million. He took his time and did it right. Every bar and liquor rack, every table has been hand made with pieces of wood Kotis collected from various searches. The place, in all honesty, is an English Pub. Everything from floor to ceiling takes you to the UK and is fully authentic.

“Nothing in here is made from everyday wood you can just go to the store and buy,” said George Crane Jr., chief operating officer. “It’s all rare and unique and we had to go out and find it. I’d say it all came together very well.”

Prior to opening, Kotis showed me around and discussed some of the other specialty items at The Marshall Free House. Items such as pub lights that were originally used on a freighter ship, special hand painted art work on the walls and a molecular mixology lab that can freeze any alcohol in seconds. You can order a drink with ice infused with your favorite alcohol.

After the main course plates had been cleared, the time had come. The bread pudding of lore whose deliciousness had been bouncing in my mind for what seemed like forever, was just moments away.

I pointlessly let our server go through telling me the available desserts. Hmm, what I had been remembering as bread pudding was really called Sticky Toffee Pudding. Either way, when it arrived it was larger than I remember. It was soaked and sitting in more sweet, buttery sauce than I remembered. But it was just as warm, rich and delicious as I had definitely remembered. !


The Marshall Free House is located at 1211 Battleground Ave., Greensboro, N.C. and is open from 4 p.m. daily. Visit www. for more info.