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Nov 5, 2007 02:58 PM

Marvin--New Restaurant in Shaw

Has anyone checked out Marvin yet? I haven't heard a whole lot about the place besides its in Shaw and named after Marvin Gaye..the owner/chef's favorite singer. Other then that I'm clueless but I'm pretty sure it opened last weekend/week.

Curious to hear about this new spot. Also if you've been, how close is it to the metro?

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  1. People are discussing it on Early reviews seem positive. It's on 14th, just north of Busboys and Poets in that new mixed-use development.

    The discussion makes me want to try it soon!

    2 Replies
    1. re: dcandohio

      Mmmmmmm chicken and waffles...deliciousness!!!

      1. re: Elyssa

        I know! But I'll have to really bank calorie savings before I enjoy that. The place sounds great, doesn't it?

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I went to Marvin last week. I'll agree with everyone so far--the chicken and waffles were absolutely delicious! My boyfriend ordered them and I stole many bites! I love sweet breakfasts and fried chicken so this was a perfect dish for me.
        If that isn't your cup of tea (although I can't imagine that...) the braised pork shoulder I ordered was also good. The flavor was tasty, although I thought it could've been stronger. The lentils that came with the dish almost became the star...cooked with bacon and delicious spices, I finished every last bite. Perfect with the crispy green beans (what's worse than mushy green beans?).
        The shrimp and grits appetizer was good but not great, next time will try something else or skip apps and try a dessert.
        I thought the prices were reasonable; we made out well under $100 with appetizer, two entrees and a bottle of wine. The dining area is a bit noisy (maybe from the bustling bar and the front of the dining room), but my boyfriend (soul/funk enthusiast) and I really enjoyed the scene at the upstairs lounge area after dinner. Great date spot.
        All in all I reallly enjoyed it and I will definitely return. I want to try their mussels and fries (seemed like it was popular order when we were there), although I don't know if I could bring myself to miss out on chicken and waffles...

        1. Had a great evening at Marvin last week. The high point of dinner was, what it should be, the food. Started with some aps: bacon and endive salad was delicious and the duck confit was pretty standard, but good. My friends got down with the mussels and burger and had good things to say. But i clearly needed to get the fried chicken and waffles, which was fantastic. Obviously there were some service issues since the place is still relatively new. Halfway through dinner, our server repeatedly asked to clear the table when people were quite obviously still eating. My bread plate was cleared mid-bite and my friend had to swat away the server's hand to prevent losing her own half-eaten baugette. They weren't that busy so there was no immediate need for a table and we were spending $, so let us be!
          Had a few more cocktails upstairs at the rooftbar which was surprisingly warm. Overall a good night!

          3 Replies
          1. re: mcmullek

            Thanks for your review mcmullek. I've been wanting to check out Marvin, especially because of the waffle and fried chicken. Perhaps I'll wait though until January or so when they work out some of the new restaurant kinks.

            Btw, how did you find the prices?

              1. re: Elyssa

                The Post lists the average entree from $11-20, but if memory serves me correctly, its more like $16-20. Beers start at $8 for a Leffe. Our total for 4 people, inc. tip, came to about $175....not affordable enough to excuse the poor service if you ask me.

            1. My girlfriend and I went to Marvin last night and had quite a mixed experience. The place was really crowded, both upstairs and down, with a 45 minute wait for a two-top around eight o'clock. Luckily, we had a reservation and were seated right away.

              The interior looks great, like a true bistro with mirrors and banquettes against two walls running the length of the room, and a crowd of tables only inches apart throughout the middle. The semi-open kitchen against the back wall makes the place feel almost like an upscale diner, and there's a real sense of "chic" informality, which is a welcomed change to the DC dining scene.

              The main problems we had were with the service, specifically timing issues. There were a few missteps from the kitchen, too.

              Almost immediately after sitting down, and before catching even a glimpse of the menu, the server was over trying to take our drink order. This really set the pace for the rest of the night, as we were rushed time and time again.

              The appetizers arrived a suspiciously short amount of time after they were ordered (a few minutes). We had Belgian cheese croquettes and a dandelion salad. Considering their delivery time (very short) and temperature (the room’s), it's hard to imagine how the croquettes could have been cooked to order. The dollop of creme fraiche added superfluous heaviness to the already-rich cheese filling, making for a poorly thought-out and rather bland dish. The dandelion salad, on the other hand, was perfectly dressed and looked and tasted extremely fresh. Raw dandelion isn't very tender, but its chewiness wasn't off-putting in this case. The shaved fennel and radish were crisp AND moist, and the acidity of the lemon really brought out the subtle flavors of all the salad’s components. This one is was a keeper -- too bad the plate was whisked away before we could finish.

              Entrees arrived immediately following our salad’s untimely departure. In fact, we could see them waiting under heat lamps as we crunched our greens. I had the sole fillet, which I'll get to in a minute. My girlfriend had the moules frites; which variety, however, we don't know, and apparently neither did the kitchen. See, the menu lists several variations on mussels, one of which includes shallots, white wine, and garlic, and another with bacon, fennel, and beer (there are at least three others). What was delivered seemed to include fennel and wine and not much else. That's not to say they weren't tasty -- they definitely were, and the portion was more than generous – they just weren’t exactly what we ordered. The accompanying fries were overcooked and soggy, made edible only by a flavorsome trio of sauces (wasabi mayonnaise, catsup, and curry).

              Now about that sole fillet. It (actually they, there were two) was breaded, fried, and served atop a mound of collard greens, grits, and a (baffling) crosshatch of white asparagus spears. The fish itself was fine, if tasteless. The greens were tender, smoky, and juicy without being swampy -- perfect. The grits, on the other hand, were clumpy and dense, likely a function of their being room temperature. Bad, but not as bad as those mysterious asparagus spears. Never mind that they’re way (way) out of season. Perhaps their appearance was an attempt by the chef to meld -- as he does in many other dishes -- ingredients from the American south with some from Belgium. Perhaps it was yet again another example of his tendency to add one ingredient too many. Whatever the reason, they were a poorly-executed -- and ultimately the decisively detrimental -- element of a dish taken a little too far. The fish and the greens alone – kind of like that black bass I had the last time I was at Hook – would have been perfect.

              The server asked twice to clear our table before we were done with the entrees. I was surprised to be invited to stay for dessert, seeing as they seemed so anxious for us to finish our meal, but we decided against ordering anything. Our meal, from seating to finish, took barely forty minutes.

              And that’s how it goes at Marvin. Several kitchen mistakes redeemed by as many pleasant surprises. Clumsy service and poor timing saved by an awesome room and atmosphere.

              Would I go back to Marvin? Absolutely. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it. However, it isn’t likely to emerge as a destination restaurant for folks outside the neighborhood. And that’s just fine with me.

              2 Replies
              1. re: justink


                That was one of the most insightful commentaries I've read on this site. Thanks for taking the time and care.

                1. re: justink

                  Thanks for your take on Marvin's. It definitely helped in my decision to wait a couple of months before I go. While good food and ambiance are important, the quality of service can make or break a pleasnt dining experience. Hopefully the owners will get a glimpse of this blog and instruct their servers to chill out a bit.