Review: Charleston’s Magnolias Restaurant

Around this time last month I found myself in Charleston, South Carolina. It was my very first time in the city and in the state on a short visit to my father’s new place a little ways outside of the area. While my dad was packed with recommendations of places to go and things to do in the city, I – still on my mission to strike out as many places as possible in the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die guide book written by Patricia Shultz requested that we take a trip over to Magnolias.

From my understanding Magnolia’s is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in all the Low Country offering eclectic Southern comfort cuisine. I’ll give them the eclectic part, but with a little extra time I’m sure I could discover much more mouthwatering dishes in the area. Reservations are strongly recommended and we made ours a day in advance for lunch since we didn’t get the memo for dinner the night before. I’m not sure if everyone is reading Ms. Schultz book along with me or if this is a real fine and great meeting and greeting place for the folks in the East Bay area, but it gets PACKED. When we walked in we were welcomed with an extra large smile from the hostess who seated us at a cozy table in the center. The interior is down home elegant, which basically means being a tad dressy and wearing your big Sunday hat if you’re a lady is absolutely okay or a pair of jeans and a nice shirt can impress just as well. (Note: Nice jeans)After driving and walking around various parts of the Charleston area my appetite had reached its peak so we gladly started with a couple of appetizers. The Down South Egg Rolls caught my attention and my father ordered the Pan Fried Chicken Livers for his own. I won’t critique the livers which I tried, but have never been a fan of liver in general so let’s move to these egg rolls. Stuffed with collard greens, chicken and tasso they are served with red pepper puree, spicy mustard sauce and peach chutney. Yum! Really they were! I was a little skeptical at first, but they did a good job pulling all the ingredients together for this one. They were not too spicy and only a little sweet, so you get the best of both worlds. I devoured the two tasty morsels in two bites.

Onto the main course, I went with the Blackened Mahi and my dad had the Fried Catfish. The mahi was accompanied by a spicy tasso ham risotto cake, sautéed spinach, sweet corn relish and a creole remoulade. For some reason I was all over the tasso ham risotto biz, but the mahi left me a little unsatisfied. It wasn’t firm and came off a bit water-logged. I finished it all up from hunger, but I think I’d pass on the mahi for something else next round. I only had a small sampling of the fried catfish so I will again pass on providing any further thoughts.

Go before you die? I think you’d be fine on waiting to hit this one or missing it completely. Nice place, good service, decent southern food at mid range prices ($15-$35 lunch). Magnolias is located at: 185 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401 Ph. 843.577.7771 extension 1.