The Bitches have always been big fans of Marvin, the U Street locale named for crooner Marvin Gaye and owned by the omnipresent Thievery Corporation.
When I first moved to Washington, Becca and I had an uproarious, wine-fueled, five-hour dinner at Marvin that I still count as one of the formative points in our friendship. All through my first year in Washington, we could be found drinking Hoegarden and dancing on the Marvin rooftop—regardless of the season.
Marvin was also my go-to spot when I needed a satisfying dinner that would please everyone. I took out-of-town friends there. I took my parents. I took my boyfriend’s parents.
We Bitches brunched at Marvin ages ago, and, as of late, have spent less time at Marvin as more and more restaurants pop up on 14th Street. Thus, when our favorite PR firm, BrandLink DC, threw a Sunday Funday media brunch, I decided to drop by and visit an old friend.
I dragged along my favorite hipster nerd with four eyes, Robb; despite being insufferably mean to me, he somehow manages to be polite and well-dressed in social situations.
When we sat down with the BrandLink ladies, at a big table in the center of the restaurant, I was pleased that my friend Sophie of In the Capital breezed in right behind me.
Today’s brunch was served family-style so that we could all sample a bit of everything.
Up first, of course, coffee and cocktails. The coffee, served in a large French press, comes from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis. It was warm, balanced, and sweet—with notes of cocoa.
The cocktails at Marvin are delicious and priced fairly at $6 to $8 a pop. I selected the Mimosa du jour, a delicious, wintery concoction, made with jalapeño infused St. Germaine, blood orange juice, aperol, and prosecco. The second glass of bubbly I sampled was the traditional mimosa, made with Chandon brut and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was a nice cocktail, but it was low on the champagne and nothing memorable.
Hipster Robb—he hates being called that—had a classic Bloody Mary, made with Absolut Vodka, house-made Bloody juice, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.
Marvin does offer a bottomless brunch on Sundays, for $15, but only for the classic mimosas and no other cocktail options. Furthermore, there are no less than three rules clearly delineated on the menu: 1. You must love orange juice and champagne mixed together (OK, duh). 2. Management reserves the right to deny bottomless mimosa at any time (OK, in case I show up tipsy at 10 a.m.?) and 3. Be considerate. No camping (2 hour limit) or you may be asked for a rent check (We get it. You have a lot of rules and are trying to make a lot of money. What if I’m there for 121 minutes as I’m catching up with friends? Will I be charged Marvin’s rent in entirety? Seems a bit Draconian).
Marvin offers a lot of brunch favorites: chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros, shrimp n’ grits, a brunch burger, and two types of Eggs Benny.
Let’s start with the highlight of Marvin’s brunch: the free-range, country-fried chicken, atop a waffle and gravy, served with collard greens. It was really delicious—and even better covered in syrup without the collard greens.
Also impressive was the huevos rancheros, with fried eggs, house corn tortillas, and black beans. I was surprised to see a Mexican dish at a Belgian restaurant, but this dish was done well.
I personally requested that we sample that shrimp n’ grits, which arrived with the heads and tails on, leaving both me and Sophie a bit queasy. The shrimp were enormous, and delicious—once I managed to wrangle off their less-than-appetizing body parts. The pan jus that covered the dish was flavorful and delicious. The cheese grits were goey and yummy, but a bit too runny, and led me to switch from a fork to a spoon.
If you brunch at Marvin, opt for the shrimp n’ grits, huevos rancheros, chicken and waffles or salmon benny. All solid options done properly.
I did not try the Marvin omelette, made with kale, caramelized onions, goat cheese, mushrooms, ham, and potato hash. But, it looked enormous and I love that they offer an omelet with kale. Nor did I sample the biscuits and gravy.
We sampled both the chocolate and blueberry Belgian waffles. I liked the chocolate-filled ones, but my counterparts complained that they were dry. My opinion may have been marred by the fact I hadn’t had carbs or chocolate in several days. I didn’t try the blueberry ones.
The French toast, served with sausage and fruit, was absolutely delicious. It was layers of moist bread, soaked in cream, and crispy on the outside. The texture bordered on bread pudding, which happens to be my favorite dessert.
The Bitches say: B+. Marvin is a great go-to brunch spot with a great ambiance and a bottomless deal. However, we thought the waffles could be better at this Belgian restaurant and the prices were a titch steep.
2007 14th St. N.W.
Marvin serves brunch Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.