We were at Marvin earlier this spring for their spring menu debut, and we have to say the menu left us less than wow’d. Don’t get us wrong – the food was (mostly) good, but it didn’t leave us with a burning desire to come back for round two. Perhaps we just aren’t fans of the seasonal ingredient options in spring? With that said, Marvin’s fall menu is what we consider a redemption.
When the cooler autumn air starts drafting through our windows and doors something in us innately sends us into hibernation mode. We crave warmth and comfort in everything, especially our food. We look for that feeling we get from fleece blankets, bonfires, peacoats, playing in the leaves and the anticipation of holidays. Chef Angel Franco delivers just that with their new menu with the inclusion of figs, fried oysters, squash, apples, pumpkin, and an abundance of winter greens. Even the colors resemble the changing colors of the leaves.
Always a fan of the “bartender’s choice” option we understand not everyone is as brave as we are when it comes to cocktail surprises. Although not on the new cocktail menu we can easily say we enjoyed the La Dispute (apple brandy, pineapple juice, Cocchi Rosa, fresh squeezed lemon juice, orange twist), and the Suzie (Tito’s vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice, Lazzaroni amaretto, simple syrup, fresh organic strawberries, Chandon Brut). Very much on the summery side of things (we’re still trying to hold on to that lovin’ feeling), they were sweet, and crisp and beach worthy. Oh how we miss the beach. We should also note we’ve never had a bad cocktail at Marvin.
The only item that is a staple of Marvin, one that is ordered quite often is the Country Fried Chicken and Waffles (free-range chicken, collards, gravy). We get it. We love chicken and waffles too, but this night was about new experiences. However, that didn’t stop the “Oooh’s” and “Aaaa’s” coming from our table mates who ordered it. Obviously it’s THAT good. Plus… gravy. Gravy makes everything better.
Nothing excites us more than walking away after sampling several items (think 5-10+) and not having a single negative experience. Obviously that makes picking and choosing our favorites nearly impossible, and what it ends up coming down to is personal preference. Even then we just can’t decide. So, we’re going to try and split up the smattering of appetizers into what we think are complementary pairs based on how “heavy” or “light” one may feel like eating.
Some people love salads and will always order one to start a meal. Call it habit, or maybe just a smart move to save room for the more important courses (like dessert), we think the Fig Salad (Black Mission figs, arugula, balsamic, walnut, fennel, goat cheese, yogurt honey dressing) is an option that won’t steer you wrong. The other veggie option is the Crispy Brussels Sprouts (cranberry, walnut, cardamom creme fraiche). Both are a fantastic combination of earthy and sweet and won’t leave you stuffed to the gills before you’ve had the chance to place your order for the entree.
We’d consider the Potato Croquettes (green onion, smoked gouda, roasted garlic sour cream) and the Chicken Fried Oysters (served with remoulade) as slightly more filling options. Both fried (and probably guilt laden), and denser in consistency these dishes are the equivalent of growing out one’s beard until resembling Paul Bunyan closer than one should, or foregoing that god-awful necessity of shaving one’s legs. Besides, we need that extra meat on our bones when we’re walking around the city in the frigidity of winter. (Don’t even talk to us about dress sizes in January or the state of our legs.)
Depending on how well one learned to share in pre-school we think the Beef Tartare (capers, cornichons, grilled baguette) and the Blackened Scallops (creamed leeks, crispy kale, olive oil) are rich and filling – both deserving to be passed around the table for all dinner mates to sample – if you really cared about your friends that is. The scallops were hands down the winning dish of the evening before entrees.
Marvin’s new entrees consist of the Pork Chop (roasted sweet potatoes, shiitake, green beans, bacon, maple jus), Butternut Ravioli (roasted squash, arugula, brown butter, sage, parmesan), and our personal selection of the evening, the Wild Sea Bass (roasted sunchokes, pearl onion, spinach, saffron sauce). Admittedly we were sneaking glances at the ravioli seconding guessing our decision, but when we realized we had cleared the ENTIRE plate, it was obvious we made the correct choice. We couldn’t get enough of the roasted sunchokes and spinach, and the pearl onions added that faint sweetness the dish needed for balance. Paired with a generous portion of bass and its crispy skin, we left satisfied and full.
But Marvin’s menu doesn’t end there. They’ve added some dessert options perfect for the changing seasons. Guests have choices ranging from Pumpkin Creme Caramel (with lemon whip), Apple Walnut Cake (apple compote, vanilla ice cream), and Warm Toffee Cake (salted caramel, ice cream). We’re neither flan texture nor pumpkin flavor fants, but we’re perhaps on a way to a conversion. It was a tough match between the apple cake and toffee cake, but ultimately it was the Toffee Cake that won our taste buds, stomachs, and hearts. We just couldn’t put the spoon down (and we didn’t want to either).
We are LOVING the fall menu revamp. Even if you despise winter the way we do, know there’s at least one thing to look forward to; a hearty meal at Marvin. We’re pretending this is Marvin’s way of flipping Jack Frost the bird.
2007 14th Street, NW
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