0208 998 5132
(Website doesn’t seem to work).
Starvin’ Marvin’s menu declares that they are “Not just a diner, but a way of life” and, you know, I totally understand that. Americana diners are one of my all-time favourite things. Whatever it is the formica tables, the rock n roll on the radio, the tiled floors, red leatherette bar stools, thick malt shakes, the juicy cheesey burgers or the sassy waitresses, they make me giddy. Don’t understand what all of the fuss is about? Have a look at Retro Roadmap to see drool-worthy diners and roadside cafes in America that will make you dream of hiring a Cadillac and hitting the open road.
And that’s why it is so very incongruous to see a sleek, aluminium 50s style diner, just past the Hoover building off the A40. But there it is – decked out in neon, with a jukebox pumping out Johnny Cash and burgers, dogs, shakes and baked cheesecakes being whipped up in the kitchen. Roadside eating in the UK is pretty woeful, I think we can all agree. Whether it’s the ‘Olympic‘ breakfasts at Little Chef or crazily expensive Ginsters at dreary ‘Welcome Break’ service-stations, I don’t envy truckers their lunch options.
Starvin’ Marvins has so much of what makes travelling to the States and eating three square (read: huge) meals a day on the road fun. The walls are decked out in Americana tat, the styling of the Diner is pretty perfect. The food options are fun – chicken goujons, chilli cheese dogs, hot dogs with that squeezy cheese which I know I shouldn’t love (but do, I do, I do!), there are sloppy cheese burgers and more fries than you can shake a stick at. The milkshakes were thick, malty and drizzled with syrup and scrummy. The prices are reasonable, but with Burger Kings and KFCs able to fill your belly for less, not as competitive as they should be. However everything we ate was good. Hot dogs are on the small side but tasty – in a guilty pleasure kind of way – and the fries are horribly addictive.
Where Starvin’ Marvins really lets itself down though, is the service. Anyone who’s been to a real American Diner knows that the service is whip-smart. Coffees are re-filled whilst you blink, the kitchen hums and the waitresses smile and call you “baby” as they serve you, fast.
At Starvin’ Marvins, service is slow. Glacially slow. The Waitress didn’t acknowledge us when we arrived and took an aeon to serve us. Unsmiling, she jotted down our order and then made it near-impossible to catch her eye. The diner was – at most – a fifth full at any time and yet we, and other diners, found it crazy-hard to get some service. This is no way good enough. The waitresses were mardy and didn’t bothered about making any tips. It’s a shame that they didn’t import any American hospitality as I am sure they are losing return business.
Starvin’ Marvins was, without question, a really fun dinner. The Ritz it aint, but unpretentious, terribly unhealthy, and lots and lots of fun.