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Aug 30, 2006 08:35 PM

Chicken Fried Steak at Marvin's Restaurant (Novato)

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.


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

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      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

        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

          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

            Room temp. The way I like it too.


            1. re: Gerard

              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

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

          2. re: Melanie Wong

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


            1. re: Gerard

              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)

          3. 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

              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. 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

                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

                  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
                  - - 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

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

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      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

                        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

                          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. 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.