Since moving back to Hong Kong last year, I had heard a lot of hype about Lori Granito’s Magnolia, but had not had the chance to try it until this weekend for a very good friend’s birthday party. If you know how excited I get about food, you can only imagine the excitement that had been built up over the last year about trying Magnolia’s Creole cuisine.
I had been advised that a night at Magnolia involved a LOT of food, so purposefully chose to wear a very floaty dress, and I now understand that this was definitely a wise move. There is no point in going to Magnolia unless you are prepared to be very well fed. A good tip is to have a fairly light lunch and go for a run a couple of hours before dinner to make sure you are extra hungry and ready for a feast, as that is exactly what Magnolia is: a feast!
The idea is to arrive at 8pm sharp, where you are greeted by the Magnolia team with a welcome cocktail and some canapés. I unfortunately arrived at 8:25 so was not able to make the most of the reception, although I did head straight for the food table where the freshly baked bread with sundried tomato, cream cheese and pesto spread was calling out my name. I could have devoured the whole plate, but was quickly reminded that there was so much more to come.
We were led through the open kitchen, where the sights and aromas of southern American splendours made our mouths water, and upstairs into our private dining room.
The first dish to kick off the feast was a bowl of gumbo soup. With fresh prawns, crab claws, sausage, rice and a fair amount of chilli, this dish perfectly matched the standards I had been expecting for the night.
Next we were each served a small plate of deep-fried green tomatoes with a crayfish salad. The little green tomatoes were incredible, coated in a Cajun batter, which was so good that I couldn’t care less how bad they were for me!
To follow these starters, an overwhelming variety of dishes were brought in and placed in the centre of the table to be shared, family style, including fried catfish strips, sweet potato mash, mustard greens with bacon, chicken etouffee with steamed rice, sausage jambalaya, Cajun BBQ ribs and cornbread muffins.
I particularly enjoyed the sausage jambalaya, always one of my favourite dishes, and the warm cornbread muffins were delicious. The dish that truly shone, however, was the BBQ ribs. The meat was so tender that it slid straight off the bone and melted in the mouth. Although I was almost reaching optimum fullness, I could not resist eating more of these ribs!
I had baked a carrot cake (for which the recipe can be found here), so after singing ‘Happy Birthday’, the cake was served alongside Magnolia’s famous pecan pie (pictured above). Obviously this was a little over-indulgent, but you can’t have a birthday without cake! If I may say so myself, my cake was pretty damn tasty, and several people mentioned that they actually preferred it to the pie. I do think that they were just being polite, however, as the pie was amazing! The glutton here polished off both desserts, meaning I was even more grateful to be wearing a floaty dress. Fortunately not everyone was as greedy as me, so a large doggy bag provided cake and pie for breakfast on Sunday.
Magnolia is completely BYOB, without corkage charge, and the attentive waiters are constantly on the lookout to top up empty wine and water glasses.
They request for the $450 per person (not bad at all for the amount of food on offer) to be paid prior to the meal, to avoid any cancellations, and as you do not part with any money on the actual night, it almost feels like you’re having a free meal!
Just in case you’re still hungry, as you leave, you are presented with a little gift box containing a yummy little cupcake from Lori’s cupcake company, Sprinkles. Even if the thought of ever eating again is unbearable, accept the cake, as you’ll be grateful the following day!
If you’re looking for a down to earth private kitchen that isn’t absurdly expensive yet serves deliciously wholesome food, then I would definitely recommend Magnolia. You may well roll out of there and it might not be the most conducive idea for a night out afterwards, but fight through it, and a couple of Jaeger bombs later, you’ll be right as rain!
Shop 5, G/F
17 Po Yan Street
Tel: +852 2530 9880
Date visited: Saturday 20th August 2011
Have a read of my mini-review of Magnolia on Localiiz too – you could find some other exciting restaurants on there worth trying!