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Marvin Review

dcandohio | Dec 10, 2007 04:53 AM

We had an early (6:30) reservation at Marvin on Saturday. I liked the feel of the downstairs space. It's warm and comfortable - as if it's been there for years. We were seated at a banquette two-top right near the server's station. Even though there was a half-wall next to us, there was still a little too much server action there to make the table really comfortable. It was a small distraction.

For starters, SO had the "baby back" ribs. They were larger and meatier than any baby back ribs I've ever seen. I don't believe they were baby backs. Anyway, they had been cut into individual bones, and seemed trimmed, as each rib was almost identical. It struck me as odd. The ribs had obviously been pre-cooked (there was a smoky taste) and then grilled right before serving. Each had distinct grill marks on every surface. They were then brushed with a sweetish sauce with a bit of a bite. They were tasty and fairly lean. The serving of 5 meaty bones was really too much as an appetizer, unless folks are sharing. The portion would make a fine entree.

I had the cheese croquettes. Three walnut-sized nuggets were served with a small pile of bitter greens. They were crispy and molten hot. They were fine but not so good that I'd order them again.

For mains, SO had the butternut squash ravioli, which was really much nicer than it sounded from the menu. It was served with lots of perfectly done slivered vegetables in a browned butter and sage sauce. It was a large portion, again, perfect for two to share as an appetizer if you'd like a pasta as a starter.

Drum roll...on to the fried chicken and waffle. I had been craving this since I learned Marvin was serving it. The chicken was heavily crusted (I'm not complaining), crisp, and still juicy. The piece was a de-boned breast with a piece of the wing still attached. Alone or with some of the accompanying syrup, the chicken was delicious. I also added hot sauce (sweet, salty, hot...YUM). The problem here is that the waffle was served atop a bed of sliced and sauced brussels sprouts. I realize this may be a nod to Belgium, but those sprouts/sauce made the waffle soggy. NO, NO, NO! The sprouts themselves were great - I love sprouts so this is not about hate for a vegetable. They just had no place in this classic dish. If the chef feels the need for fusion, he could put those sprouts on the side. Here's my advice if you order this dish. Either ask for the sprouts to be left off, or put on the side. I immediately removed the waffle, pushed the sprouts to the side, and things were fine. I prefer a light hand on the syrup, but there's plenty if you like more.

The service was friendly and well-paced. No complaints there. Things seemed to be running smoothly. After dinner, we braved the cold for a nightcap at the upstairs, outdoor bar. There are plenty of heat lamps. Sitting in my coat, basking under the heat lamp, felt like a very adult bonfire! I wouldn't sit up there in below freezing temps, but it was pretty comfortable given the chill in the air.

I would definitely return to Marvin. I'd order the chicken and waffles again (sans sprouts), and would like to explore more of the menu.

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