I consider myself a connoisseur of our region’s delicacies. I truly love good old-fashioned Southern cooking from white linen tables topped with fine china and the latest trends to smothered anything served with pride in a hidden truck stop. Transplanted from New Orleans to Louisville, both great cities both great cities share a bond beyond the city’s symbol of a fleur di lis, and it begins in on the plate.
On a suggestion I ventured to Buckner, Kentucky, just south of LaGrange to try some of the best Southern food my friend said he’d had in a very long time at Starvin’ Marvin’s Country Kitchen.
My wife and I missed the restaurant the first couple times as it is tucked away in a corner strip-mall right off I-71, exit 17 and as the name had me curious, the sign had me concerned. Their logo is a stereotype buck-toothed red headed ‘hillbilly’ smoking a cob pipe under a straw hat who smiled at me from the roof as I approached and from the floor as I entered. But I was there for the food, not the décor, and ‘Marvin’s didn’t disappoint.
The restaurant was spacious and not only included multiple rooms for dining, several flat-screen televisions, a counter near the kitchen, and most importantly the whole space was inviting and clean.
They were between breakfast and lunch service on a Sunday, so seating was no problem and our server provided her suggestions from the menu with charm and a smile. Although everything on the menu looked fantastic I went for their specialty, the fried catfish dinner ($9.99) and my wife wanted to taste one of their much touted homemade burger sandwich specials ($5.99). The remainder of the menu brought me back to grandma’s kitchen with sandwiches from fried bologna to country fried steak, to dinners like meatloaf, fried chicken and ribs all with the common theme: “Fresh homemade”.
As we waited for our food I grabbed the multiple laminated menus tucked within the condiment holder and was amazed at the specials. Too many to list, here is a sampling from every day of the week:
- MONDAY: “Burger Night” 1/3lb Angus Burger ($3.99)
- TUESDAY: All You Can Eat Spaghetti Dinner ($6.99)
- WEDNESDAY: Express lunch specials are $5.99 and kids eat free for dinner
- THURSDAY: All You Can Eat BBQ Ribs ($9.99)
- FRIDAY: All You Can Eat Catfish ($9.99)
The list goes on with specials for Seniors, children, combos, samplers, and of course the desserts.
The owner of the establishment, Marvin, gladly joined us for some conversation and explained that they quickly outgrown their original location after only eleven months and re-opened in Bucker five months ago, retaining all of their original clientele (and for good reason).
Our food arrived and it was as amazing as the hospitality. My wife, who doesn’t prefer fried catfish stole more than one bite from my plate. The sides of mac & cheese, white beans & cornbread, green beans and fried okra were equally as good as the main course – and as promised – fresh and homemade.
I asked Marvin how he managed to be so successful with so many specials and such large portions, “My goal is to make great food, that’s it. I could possibly make more money, but the goal is just to make the customers happy and not lose any (money or customers)”.
Barely saving any room for dessert, we tried the recommended peach cobbler ($3.49), and a turtle brownie with vanilla-bean ice cream and caramel sauce (also $3.49). Again, all homemade, fresh from the oven hot, and wonderful.
Starvin’ Marvin’s menu touts that they offer home-style meals prepared from scratch form their kitchen all day long and that you’ll find everything you love about country cooking plus a few that might surprise you. And they absolutely put their money where my appetite used to be. Whether it’s old favorites like biscuits & gravy for breakfast, soup & sandwich combo for lunch to meatloaf, country ham and plenty of country vegetables for dinner, you will never go hungry at Starvin’ Marvin’s Country Kitchen, and like me, you’ll definitely be going back for seconds.
Starvin’ Marvin’s (502-222-0078) is located at 4773 Fox Run Road, Buckner, KY 40010 and is open daily from 7am to 8pm.
(Photo: Owner Marvin Whitesides, courtesy of Kit Helton)