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Chicken Fried Steak at Marvin's Restaurant (Novato)

Gerard Aug 30, 2006 08:35 PM

All the CFS chatter on the board got me craving some.

This place was worth the trip from the East Bay. I won't go toe to toe with the Texans on the board, but if this isn't the best in the Bay Area, it's gotta be in the top tier.

The golden crust stood up beautifully to the white cream gravy. Ridiculously rich, of course, but not greasy--not when contextualized in the realm of CFS generally. They were also very accomodating of my insane substitutions.

My friend's French toast was good as well. It was surprisingly...fancy-looking.

The only downside is, having eaten the whole thing, I will probably not be eating in the month of September.


  1. m
    Mick Ruthven Sep 9, 2006 09:06 PM

    I'll have to disagree about the CFS at Marvin's in Novato. I had it this morning and it was wafer-thin (maybe exaggerating a bit) pounded-to-death meat with as much batter/crust as meat, the whole thing dry and hard. The good gravy was the only thing that made it edible. I'm not from Texas nor did I grow up with CFS, so I really only know what I like and don't like and not what it's "supposed" to be. I found the version at Marvin's in Cotati (about a year ago) much better, with meat that was thicker and actually identifiable as meat, not dry etc etc.

    1. r
      rtmonty Aug 31, 2006 07:18 PM

      I don't know. Just got back from Texas (home) and had CFS twice. It was sooo good. Novato is a pretty long way to drive for me. However, you did mention "white" gravy which is something I've seldom found on CFS our here.

      6 Replies
      1. re: rtmonty
        Gerard Aug 31, 2006 08:36 PM

        If it helps entice you, there's a pretty good bakery (as in pastry) called Flour Chylde just a pleasant stroll down the street. Two birds...


        1. re: rtmonty
          larochelle Sep 1, 2006 12:05 AM

          I'm from Texas. Since I usually only go back once year, I tend to gorge of CFS while I'm there.

          While in CA, if I come across CFS on the menu, I'll generally order it just see if its any good. Most are "cafeteria" quality, not even close to a gen-u-ine Texas CFS. But I have not done a systematic "every CFS in the Bay Area" taste test.

          So far the only consistant, Texas quality CFS I've found is at the Blue Bird Cafe in Hopland and Texas Roadhouse in Union City
          - http://www.texasroadhouse.com/newsite... - I know its a chain and not Texas owned and the rest of their menu is questionable, but if the craving hits & I'm not willing to make it myself, that's the place to go.

          FYI - I liked Marvin's CFS fine, it was better than most local CFS (but its not like there's much competition) and the service was very nice, but I wouldn't make the drive from SF for just for it.

          1. re: larochelle
            Melanie Wong Sep 1, 2006 12:07 AM

            Marvin's in Cotati, Novato or Petaluma? They're all independently owned.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              larochelle Sep 8, 2006 06:19 PM

              Damn! Now that you mention it, I think it was the Cotati Marvins - now I'm going to have to dig out my notes.

              And since my knowledge of the North Bay is sketchy at best, I'm gonna have to put all three in our Garmin so we can find them for a Marvins v. Marvins v. Marvins CFS Smackdown!

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Claudette Sep 8, 2006 08:10 PM

                Do you know if Bob Marvin still owns the Petaluma one? (BTW: Melanie, you must put a lot of miles on your car or your SuperWoman cape.)

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Mick Ruthven Sep 8, 2006 11:49 PM

                  Google seems to find an old and new Marvin's in Petaluma. I don't think I've ever been to either. Does one of them have a good CFS?

            2. b
              beckiefd Aug 31, 2006 07:09 PM

              Lordy, Lordy, Lord, I should never visit this site when I'm hungy. Anybody know a good CFS restaurant in the Northbay, like, say Santa Rosa?

              1 Reply
              1. re: beckiefd
                Melanie Wong Aug 31, 2006 08:29 PM

                If you check the link in my first reply above to Gerard, it lists places in Hopland and Petaluma to get a good house-prepped CFS. It's actually about biscuits and gravy in the North Bay, but sometimes I succumbed to the call of CFS. Also to avoid Hank's Creekside in Santa Rosa because they're frozen and deep-fried.

                You might also try Marvin's in Cotati, here's the info -

              2. Melanie Wong Aug 31, 2006 03:13 AM

                Is the coffee still good there? I remember that the OJ was squeezed to order.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Gerard Aug 31, 2006 09:40 AM

                  The OJ was definitely squeezed to order, which is always a good omen at a breakfast spot.

                  Didn't try the coffee.


                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    The Dive Aug 31, 2006 08:23 PM

                    Sometimes the OJ at Marvins, even if fresh-sqeezed, is warm. Indeed, it was about half the time when it was my regular Sunday place. I will add that I am fan of the pancakes with blueberries or bananas (huge cakes with tons of fruit), plus a good rendition of biscuits and gravy (although you can't anything for a week).

                    1. re: The Dive
                      Melanie Wong Aug 31, 2006 08:25 PM

                      Warm or room-temperature? Room temperature and freshly squeezed with all the fullness of aroma is perfect in my book. Warm is not.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        Gerard Aug 31, 2006 08:37 PM

                        Room temp. The way I like it too.


                        1. re: Gerard
                          The Dive Sep 8, 2006 04:51 PM

                          But sometimes the room temperature is 80, especially when the oranges are next to the grill. that's warm in my book. But in any event, I loved Marvin's.

                          1. re: Gerard
                            Melanie Wong Sep 9, 2006 03:07 AM

                            "Grilled" OJ, now that's an innovation. (vbg)

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        Gerard Aug 31, 2006 08:50 PM

                        That's one hell of a post you linked to, by the way.


                        1. re: Gerard
                          Melanie Wong Aug 31, 2006 08:59 PM

                          Heheh, you're only foregoing eating for the month of September. After my B&G obsession, I abstained from biscuits and gravy for about three years. (vbg)

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