City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: Marvin Burger
The Location: Marvin, 2007 14th St., (202) 797-7171
The Price: $15
The Skinny: The manager at Marvin introduces himself and promptly takes a seat with my wife, Carrie, and I. He wants to know how we heard about the restaurant and lounge, which was recently opened by the same folks—including Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton—responsible for the 18th Street Lounge, Dragonfly, and Local 16. I tell him that I had seen the small shitstorm that his $15 hamburger created on the Prince of Petworth blog, which immediately causes him to start justifying the price of the sandwich. It’s all organic Angus beef, he says. It has Chimay cheese on it. It’s served on an onion brioche bun. It comes with chanterelles. It massages your hands while you hold it. Okay, I made the last one up, but you get his point. Much of the burger’s costs are sandwiched between those brioche buns. I tell him that the main reason I’m here is to sample his controversial burger, prepared in chef Jimmy Claudio’s kitchen. The manager says he looks forward to my reaction. Things start off poorly when the burger arrives: It’s overcooked. I asked for medium rare; I got something bordering on well-done. The grill flavor is decent enough, but the large, bready brioche bun overwhelms everything, as if you’re trying to chew through cotton to reach the main ingredients. Between the dry, extremely salty burger and the dry bun, I’m dying for something moist and juicy. Good thing I have a beer handy and three different dipping sauces, including a fantastic curry aioli, for the hand-cut fries that accompany the burger. When the manager returns for the verdict, I give him the short version: The burger’s overcooked and the bun’s a poor partner. He seems less disappointed than determined to fix the problem. He tells me he’ll investigate the bun issue, and he walks immediately to the kitchen to talk with a cook. I like his style, even if I don’t like his overpriced burger.