Location: 350 West 40th Street
Best Dish: We have two words for you: Ox Cheeks. If you’ve never experienced this cut of meat you are in for a rare treat. The meat is tender and dissolves on impact, a true carnivore’s dream. Kudos to Executive Chef Alan Wise.
Overall: A spacious inviting space with great food and fantastic service.
Magnolia Restaurant is a trendy upscale eatery just a few short blocks from touristy Times Square. It shines like a hidden gem just yards from the throngs of excited travelers admiring New York City’s most iconic strips. The decor, designed by Gene Kaufman, is homey yet sophisticated with polished brass amid sleek camel brown leather, and exposed white brick. The dining area is elongated with an additional seasonal outdoor garden space. The restaurant is fairly new to the area and continues to grow slowly building a reputation for class and gourmet treats. We dropped in on a weekday and settled in quickly and ordered a round of cocktails. The signature beverages have a tropical theme, bringing to mind warm sand beaches and sunshine.
The Carribean Cosmo is a sweet refreshing take on the classic cosmopolitan. The Caribbean twist combines vodka, pineapple juice, hibiscus syrup and a splash of Prosecco. Another twisted classic on the menu is the Hula Hurricane, a mix of passionfruit and rum finished with a dusting of pink peppercorn which adds a little spice.
While enjoying our beverages we nibbled on the Fried Octopus. Unlike its familiar cousin, fried calamari, this gourmet version is not heavily battered and served with tartar sauce. Instead, it is simply fried whole and served with a fresh white bean salad and salsa verde.
After the tasty octopus, we kept our seafood feast going with the seared scallops. Scallops can be difficult to prepare but Magnolia Restaurant gets it right. The bite-sized mollusks were moist, tender, and well-seasoned. The scallops were served with fresh baby carrots, spiced carrot puree, and a herbaceous chimichurri topping.
In addition to its seafood offerings, Magnolia Restaurant‘s capsule menu also offers several interesting cuts of meat. We love lamb and couldn’t deny ourselves the Lamb Loin. We’ve enjoyed many a chop and shank but the Lamb Loin is a prized cut we rarely see. This meat comes from the waist and is the valued for its lean quality and tenderness. The lamb is served beautifully medium of a bed of quinoa salad with black pepper yogurt and drizzled with thyme vinaigrette.
Magnolia’s simplistic menu offered us the chance to try an often neglected cut of meat. We’ve had pork cheeks before, but we enjoyed our first Ox Cheeks at Magnolia. The cheek is the most tender cut of meat we have ever experienced. Imagine oxtail but even more tender and boneless.
We followed the Ox Cheeks with the Apple Crumb Cake and another round of cocktails. The Apple Crumb Cake is actually more like a cobbler with tender chunks of tart and sweet apples. Along with the cocktails, it was the perfect way to end our dining experience.
For our second round of drinks, we sampled the Apple of Mai Eye, a delicious bourbon cocktail made with Makers Mark, Apple Cider, and nutmeg infused syrup. The flavor is intense and it paired well with the apple dessert, intensifying the rich apple flavors.
Anytime we get to try something new is a good night and Magnolia Restaurant delivered in a big way. The seasonal menu and fresh flavors satisfied our palates while the friendly staff made us feel right at home. The location is ideal for New Yorkers as well as tourists. Magnolia Restaurant is walking distance from Midtown’s most popular areas but far enough from the main thoroughfare to avoid being overwhelmed by the crowds. Best of all, when you’re done with your meal and want to enjoy another cocktail or two, one of the hottest and newest lounges in the city is right upstairs! Lovage Rooftop Lounge offers good drinks a spectacular view and the same friendly atmosphere. We couldn’t leave without stopping by Lovage. Check it out here!