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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 donrockwell.com. 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. 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.

              2. Went to Marvin with a group of 10 this weekend. Nice atmosphere, if loud, excellent food, no real service problems, and decent value for the quality of the food and dining experience.

                Many entrees are priced $16 (all varieties of moules frites, gumbo, chicken and waffles, sweet potato ravioli, etc.). The highest item tops out at $24, I think. A couple of items at this price point, including a short rib that I'd like to try in the future.

                Most appetizers and salads under $10. Beers and glasses of wine mostly at $7 or $8. A little high, but not uncommon in DC. And at least it's not mass label supermarket wine at $7 a glass.

                My end of the table enjoyed the following: duck confit appetizer (with beets, mache, and a generous scoop of chevre), shrimp and grits appetizer, french onion soup (declared the best that person had ever had), a green salad, and entrees of moules frites (wild mushroom sauce), chicken and waffles, sweet potato ravioli (with spinach or some other sauteed green), and steak frites.

                The stars:

                Chicken and waffles. Wow, who knew this was such an amazing taste combination? Make sure to pour the syrup over it all, rather than dipping it.

                Duck Confit: very good and a moderately generous portion, I thought. I shared it with another person and felt I had enough.

                Shrimp and Grits appetizer: The person who doesn't like grits really liked this dish.

                Both appetizers and the salad were of sizeable enough portions (not large, not small) that I could be satisfied with a combination of an appetizer and a salad.

                Less successful:

                The creamy wild mushroom moules frites ($16). I love mussels; I love mushrooms; but maybe they weren't meant to be together? Either the mussels were a little off, or the mushrooms were too earthy for seafood item. The fries were good and the sauces ordinary, but nice to have dipping options.

                Given that we were a party of 10 and people were late showing up, I was pleased with the service we received. Smooth operations; good drink refills; no kitchen problems.

                Bill came to about $37 per person, including tax and tip. About half of us had appetizers; all had entrees; most people had at least two drinks. I think that makes for a very reasonable and satisfying night out.

                This could become my new favorite "celebrations" place for groups looking for good food at moderate prices.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    No one tried the hamburger in my group so I can't report back. At $15, I'd be hard pressed to get the hamburger when $1 more gets you almost half of their dinner entrees, which are more interesting. (I love hamburgers, but rarely get gumbo, chicken and waffles, etc.).

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      BTW, that is a crazy thread. $15 burgers - blah, blah, blah...bouncers, dress code, wannabes blah, blah, blah. (I did not encounter bouncers or a dress code. Wannabes is up for interpretation.)

                      It was interesting to see everyone (i.e., folks who haven't been to Marvin's) comparing it overrated spots in DC (owned by the same people, albeit). Most of the people who have been seem to have liked it.

                      I hate Local 16 and similar scene-y places, was concerned that Marvin's would be too much like those places, but was pleasantly surpised. Definitely more scene-y than most of the places I enjoy, but I appreciate having a fun place to get a good meal with friends and not break the bank.

                      Re. the $15 hamburger, see my post below. Sorry to not be able to weigh in on the Petworth debate.

                  2. Didn't eat there, only had drinks. However, the outside porch is nice since it has heated gas lamps (but not warm enough for the really chilly nights). Also the upstairs is a nice spot to hang out, although it can get loud and difficult to hear when there are a lot of people.

                    1. Tried the chicken and waffles a couple of weeks ago. This was a first time for me having this "L.A." dish. The chicken was a large boness deep fried breast. Expertly cooked, but not necessarily different from Popeye's. It was served on top of a good waffle. A few brussel sprouts cooked in a butter sauce provided the only 'gravy' of the dish. It was also served with a small pitcher of hot maple syrup.

                      This was a good dish. I wish there was more 'gravy' to it. I can't imagine using much of the male syrup. I wanted dinner, not dessert.

                      Since the menu was half-Belgian and half-Southern, I was half-expecting maybe a Liege-style waffle, but no such luck. Just the ubiquitous American version.

                      This is a very dark restaurant with tables very close together and hard chairs. The menu sounds delectable, but I might not rush back.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Steve

                        This updated thread reminded me to post again on my recent experience (second visit). You can note above my overrall very positive review for my first visit. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as impressed the second time.
                        To start off my group of four waited quite a long time for drinks, then once the orders were finally taken we were informed they were out of two of the beer selections we had made (not too late on a Friday night).
                        Then, when we were finally able to order we were also informed that they only had one order of chicken and waffles left (two in our group had ordered). We were surprised that they would be out of what might be considered their 'signature dish' so early on a Friday night (especially one that seems to include pretty basic ingredients. Chicken...waffle batter...?). My boyfriend graciously let me have it, but then had to rush to make his substitution order as the waitress stood over him and told him that if he didn't hurry, both orders would be gone by the time she got back to punch them in.
                        Perhaps the waitress was having an off night. In addition to that faux pas, she TWICE walked away from the table after taking down orders from three members of the group and ignoring a fourth. I also had to specifically ask for the bread to be brought to the table after waiting about 20 minutes and getting through one round of drinks.
                        The experience wasn't all bad. Everyone in the group really enjoyed their food. Chicken and waffles expectional just as before. The hamburger, braised pork shank and moules and frites with andouille sausage were also ordered. My friend wasn't wowed by the mussels (though not bad), but thought the frites were better than Brasserie Beck (they've gotten some mixed reviews on here). The sauces were especially good (is that a curry mustard...?).
                        I also noticed the issue with timing. I was asked at least twice if I was finished, and my plate was whisked away pretty much the moment the last bite entered my mouth.
                        Not sure if it was just an off night, a bad waitress or just plain bad service at Marvin in general, but I wasn't as happy with my experience as I was the first time. Hopefully they can get those things worked out because the food really is delicious and worth the trip.

                        1. re: edlf25

                          Well.... What about the burger???

                          Is it as good as Palena's?
                          it does not make sense for them not to have a menu on line!!

                      2. Does anyone have a copy of Marvin's menu? It's a little annoying that they haven't updated their website to include a menu and more info. Menupages.com doesn't have the menu either.

                        I've never eaten there but have heard great things. I've been debating about throwing my boyfriend's birthday party there in May (since I hear they have the space etc) but I'll need a menu to send him so he can decide between Marvin and some other restaurants (he doesn't live in DC)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Elyssa

                          I was just about to write the same thing. I really would like to see a menu. Maybe you call them and have them fax you one (and of course scan send it to menupages/yelp!).

                          1. re: Jacey

                            Did anyone ever get their hands on a copy of the menu?

                            1. re: food.fiend

                              i didnt, but i went a couple of weeks ago and it was great. The mussels in ale, bacon and leeks were some of the tastiest i have ever had! everything else was great also! I would highly reccomend it.

                            2. re: Elyssa

                              Menupages has this menu online now, though I don't know how complete it is since I haven't been to Marvin yet.

                            3. I went last month (May) on a Friday. I was nervous because my high-strung family from New York was coming down and they don't deal well with rude servers. Fortunately we had an excellent experience. The wait staff was very courteous, despite our table of 7 being a hot mess and taking forever to make up our mind on what we wanted. We were at our table for well over 2 hrs and never felt rushed. The food was delicious (I had the hamburger and don't usually eat red meat), and we loved how detailed the beer menu was, it was easy to find exactly what you would like. We got a few desserts to share (since it was so long ago I can't remember exactly what we got) and they were all delicious.

                              The only complaint was that the restaurant was loud, and made it hard for our long table to talk to each other, but that comes with the territory sometimes.

                              1. I'm going to brunch at Marvin this weekend. Anyone been? Do they offer the waffles and chicken for brunch??