Marv's may be located in the middle of Park Place in Leawood, but it will take you to a place that feels like the center of The Loop in Chicago. Owner Steve Kerner basically grew up in Chicago Jewish-style Delis. After cutting his teeth in the kitchen, Steve moved on to be the first Executive Chef for KC Hopps and later opened his own concept, In*gre*di*ent (Yes, In*gre*di*ent was Steve's concept. Do you love In*gre*di*ent? Good, me too!). Marv's is a bit different, but every bit, if not even more awesome! P.S. Yes, that is a real hot dog cart out front. No, it is not for looks. Yes, they do bust that bad boy out and start serving Chicago-style Dogs down by the Park Place Ice Rink (or whatever it may be in the season that you are reading this), and you know how I LOVE street food!
Named after Steve's dad, Marv (obviously), Marv's serves up old Jewish-style Deli classics and new trendy hits. From the chopped liver to the Marvelous donuts, everything that I have had from Marv's is fantastic!
Yes, that is right, I had the chopped liver! Admittedly, I had never been high on the idea of eating liver because it is quite literally the filter, but I gave it a shot and I was very glad that I did. Another thing that others may be weary of, when it comes to liver, is freshness. You never know how fresh this stuff is, you never see anyone order it, it has probably been sitting there the maximum amount of time that the health code allows. Not at Marv's, the liver is made fresh daily!
Although the liver says chopped on the menu, it is not what I would think of a chopped, it is more like a dense puree than chopped chunks of liver, but that is fine. Having never had liver before, I don't know what I expected it to taste like. But whatever I expected it to taste like, it tasted nothing like that! It was sweet and peppery. The small chunks of hard boiled eggs and red onions served on it, that almost appear to be garnishes, compliment it well. But the real compliment is the almost pickle-iness of the soft, grainy, twice-baked rye bread (That stuff was amazing, I was fiending rye bread for days after that! I even started tasting rye beer differently afterwards.).
The potato pancakes, a Jewish tradition, were addicting, I had to literally force myself to stop eating them! Do not mistake potato pancakes for hash browns, or something so simple, the shreds of potato in potato pancakes are much thinner and are held together by a binder (often potato flour). Brought to you with apple sauce and sour cream, the traditional Jewish-style deli way. The way to eat them is to put a little sour cream on top, followed by a little apple sauce, eat, and repeat. Though Hanukkah may be over, Marv's serves them all year round.
The big dogs, what you really go to Marv's for, the sandwiches: range from traditional corned beef (piled high, as if there were any other way to have it) to Steve's awesome creations that have Chicago-centric names (and are also piled high, duh!). If you are as big of sandwich lover as myself (I may be second only to Jeff Mauro in my love for sandwiches), you will love Marv's. All of them are served with slightly sour pickles and really good house-made kettle chips, unless you want another side. My recommendation is to upgrade your kettle chips to the even more awesome potato pancakes, for a buck, you can thank me later.
Can't decide between the corned beef and the brisket sandwiches? That's fine, go with something like The Over and Under (named after the betting term "over/under", for those that are wager illiterate). I don't know why it's called The Over and Under, but it may have something to do with the fact that there is corned beef AND brisket Over and Under some pretty spectacular coleslaw. This is by far the best corned beef that I have had outside of my mother's kitchen! I am pretty elitist about my coleslaw, and this slaw is not slacking. Just look down the barrel of this guy, seriously.
And before you leave (or heck, before you even start your day), you have to pick up one (or a few dozen) of Marv's new gourmet "Marvelous" donuts. The flavours change weekly, some of them are pretty plane, some of them are pretty crazy (I think there were a Fruity Pebbles and Cap'n Crunch, two seperate flavours, one week). I had a plain donut with chocolate-peanut butter frosting. The donut was nice and dense, like I like them. My only request would be to get a bit more yeasty flavour to it without sacrificing too much density. That is not a knock, just a request for when Steve reads this and is working on his next set of donut recipes, the donuts are really wonderful!
Now, one thing that can be a bit confusing, is that Marv's is a sit down restaurant that serves deli food (so don't go in expecting a deli counter). Also, don't mistake Steve for some laissez faire owner. You can hear him calling out orders to the kitchen, under the sports ticker that is running the scores to all the games. There are TVs with the games on, in case you had money riding on one or something. The decor screams Chicago deli. It is a newer restaurant, but is still warm enough to make you feel at home (even if you are not from Chicago).