photo credit: Jakob Layman
Where do you feel most comfortable hanging out? The floor of your bedroom, the corner coffee shop, or maybe that one bathroom in your parents’ basement that no one besides you ever uses. What about an upscale French restaurant? Not exactly. Sure, you love steak-frites and will confidently mispronounce a plate of rare cheese with the best of them, but on those nights where you just need to unwind and hash out your life, that kind of restaurant might feel a little stiff. Except if we’re talking about Marvin, a neighborhood French spot where hanging out isn’t just acceptable, it’s required.
If you live within a half mile of Beverly Blvd. and Crescent Heights, you don’t just know what Marvin is, you’ve already been there twice this week and are coming with a date on Saturday. This is your Cheers. If you don’t live around the area, chances are you’ve never even heard of the place. And that’s what needs to change.
The second walk into Marvin, you feel comfortable. It reminds you of the house of your favorite college professor, who went a tad overboard with French country decor, but you love them for it because they’re expressing themselves. The crowd is laid-back and treats the place like it’s their living room, you won’t have trouble getting a table at 8pm, and the waitstaff talks to you like you’re already their friend.
When you first look at the menu, it all seems like fairly straightforward wine-drinking finger food. You’ve got your salads, your charcuterie, and a steak tartare for good measure. The difference is this is wine-drinking finger food that you’ll wake up the next day thinking about. The jamon tomate and asparagus and egg toasts are both must-orders, and different enough from each other that it doesn’t feel like you’re on a full-throttle toast parade. The rigatoni bolognese is easily shareable and filling enough to warrant its $22 price point. If you do want to go big, get the pork chop. It’s the best of the entrees and you get a side of your choosing, which should be the creamed spinach.
One thing to note about Marvin is it can get pricey. The cheapest glass of wine is $16 and most of the main entrees hover around $30. The trick to keeping things reasonable is to come with the intention of snacking aggressively instead of throwing down on a three-course meal. Marvin is at its best when you’re able to sit back, drink good wine (just get a bottle - it’s more economical and you need it anyway), and order small plates whenever you get hungry. And that definitely beats your parent’s bathroom.
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Jamon Tomate Toast
If you only plan on ordering one thing from Marvin and drinking wine the rest of the night, get this. If you plan on eating a bunch of things and drinking wine the rest of the night, also get this. It’s simple, but hearty and the toast itself is fantastic.
Heirloom Tomato And Burrata Salad
You’re going to want this salad because it’s big enough to split with a date, and if they eat around the giant dollop of burrata in the middle, at least you know it was never meant to be.
Asparagus And Egg Toast
Is this kind of a breakfast item? Yes. Should you still eat it for dinner? Absolutely. It’s rich and savory and we have no idea how they get that shaved asparagus to taste so good.
This is the best pasta at Marvin, and one of the more underappreciated bowls of noodles in town. The pasta is cooked perfectly, and the sauce has way more going on than you think. Hint: It’s truffle.
Turns out you’re hungrier than you thought and you need a full entree. Get the pork chop. Its $31 price tag is a little aggressive, but the portion size is big and you get a side of your choosing. Make it the creamed spinach.