I don't know exactly what it is about ramshackle-looking eateries with large patios filled with rustic picnic tables, but I kinda like them. Maybe it's because, even in the fancy Silicon Valley, they don't feel compelled to be slick or pretentious. Maybe it's because their focus is on serving good food and drinks in an environment that's conducive to hanging out for hours with good friends.
And, in the case of Marvin Gardens, occasionally, you get to experience the residual trembles from the nearby CalTrains. And by nearby, I mean literally right behind the the restaurant's patio area -- right over your head as you enjoy your pint and burger. After a few trains, you just learn to pause your conversation. No biggie.
Jon and I met up with a couple of friends at Marvin Gardens last night. I ordered the fish and chips, which consisted of beer-battered rock cod. (The fish part of the plate was good -- better than the chips.) Jon ordered the veggie pizza, which he enjoyed (an individual-size is probably sufficient for one person). Our compadres ordered the fish and chips as well, and the El Gato burger (ground sirloin on toasted French roll with green chili pepper and jack cheese).
The restaurant's web site boasts that they serve "primo excellent food," and although that's a bit of an exaggeration, our meal here was quite tasty. I would go back again and, when I'm not wearing a white t-shirt, maybe try the half slab of ribs.
What I found especially appealing about Marvin Gardens is that everywhere we turned -- inside and outside -- there were groups of people that looked to be having a grand time. Young, old. Women, men. Families, coworkers, friends from back in the day. It's a neighborhood-joint kind of place where things are easy, casual and most importantly, fun.
1160 Old County Road