Saturday morning on my way to SSU, I had enough time to spare for a real sitdown breakfast and pulled into Marvin's Restaurant and Bakery, a place I'd been curious about for a while. Located in the parking lot of a strip mall, it's decorated with country knicknacks and has a couple umbrella tables outside too. I liked the smell when I walked in --- fresh orange zest and good coffee.
The folks seated around me were tucking into giant platters of steak and eggs, pancakes, omelets, and more. Looked like I'd picked the right place for a bountiful breakfast. Studying the specials posted on the board, the chicken fried steak made with the NY cut ($9.95) caught my eye. That didn't sound like something that SYSCO sells prefabbed and frozen. (g) Other interesting specials included Mexican Benedict (made with chorizo instead of ham) and a prime rib omelet . . . the place is definitely meat oriented.
I picked hash browns over home fries and asked for a biscuit instead of toast. Beginner's luck struck again as the hash browns had that golden, buttery kind of crunch that's so hard to find. The shreds of potatoes were still individual and not mashed into mush. They're made in a thin layer and then folded over like an omelet so the bottom has the same crunchy texture. Not that I got to the bottom, devouring just the top of the very generous serving was more than enough for one meal.
The two eggs over easy were just that and the yolks were great mixed with the potatoes. Not designer eggs yet obviously very fresh with perky yolks. The whites were a little too bubbly, but no big deal.
The chicken fried steak was awesome. The breading was crackly crisp and reminded me of the kind of crunchy of coating on pork tonkatsu. It held up well under the cream gravy, but didn't fuse completely with the pounded steak. The steak would have been better seasoned before breading, but it was fine after I added a bit of salt and pepper. [N.B. - the cute black rooster pepper shaker dumps out too much pepper.] The cream gravy was wonderful too, and slightly undersalted as well. Great silky texture, not pasty or tasting of undercooked flour, and it had bits of ham AND country sausage AND bacon.
The fresh squeezed OJ, $3.50, was great too. I was served from a chilled pitcher - next time I'd ask for room temperature. While I didn't have coffee, I noted that the roaster is Thanksgiving, usually quite fine.
The one downer was the biscuit. The texture was more like a supermarket hamburger bun. But there was so much food on my plate it was extraneous anyway. I did try a bit of the blackberry and the strawberry/rhubarb freezer jams and they were delicious.
I spotted three Latino cooks in the kitchen and the waitresses were all smiling, young Latino women. I asked my server if the restaurant was family-owned and operated. She nodded, saying that they were all related, and pointed out her aunt and godmother working behind the counter. Her family's pride and warmth certainly come through in the food and the service. This was a great way to start the day.
Marvin's Restaurant & Bakery
7991 Old Redwood Hwy
Cotati, CA 94931-5109