Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Magnolia Cafe - report (semi-long)

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Restaurants & Bars

Magnolia Cafe - report (semi-long)

Akatonbo | Apr 27, 2006 09:37 AM

We went last night to the Magnolia Cafe, on Wilson near Truman College. This place has become one of our favorite near-home dining spots (it's in Uptown, and we're in Lincoln Square). We feel that it's way better than Bistro Campagne (admittedly a very different style of food), which has been up and down in quality several times since it opened. Certainly Magnolia Cafe changes its menu much more often.

Last night I had their quesadilla appetizer, which featured smoked chicken, onions and pepper jack cheese with sides of a version of guacamole, sour cream and salsa to put on top as desired. Very tasty, though not my favorite appetizer I've had there (I usually get their crab cakes with a corn remoulade, which are very good). I got the quesadillas because I was planning on getting the mahi-mahi with the shrimp-stuffed poblano. My husband got the mussels for an appetizer, as he usually does. He reported them to be delcious, as usual. They came with toast points loaded with gorgonzola.

The mahi-mahi was great - perfectly cooked fish draped over a mound of mashed potatoes, with the promised poblano next to it. The mashed potatoes had a sauce that seemed to be beef-based - it worked quite well with the dish. The poblano was stuffed with a sort of Mexican shrimp hash - very delicious. My husband had the Walleye Pike, which came in a light curry sauce with Kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes. Very good, though a bit salty. My husband said the lightly creamed garlicky broth that the mussels came in was also salty, but we like salt, so it was okay. I haven't noticed a heavy hand with the salt in the past at this place, though.

Dessert was a choclate cake thingy with a carmelized banana half on the side, whipped cream, and a scoop of cocoa ice cream.

This is a little neighborhood place that serves contemporary cuisine that is way better than you'd expect. We usually order a fish dish there, and it's always expertly done, with balanced flavors. They do a pretty good business on the weekends, but last night only a few tables were filled. Maybe their out-of-the-way location is to blame, but they're actually only a short walk west of the Red Line L stop. Service is good, though the big, friendly, biker-type waiter is better than the tall, skinny humorless type who waited on us last night.

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