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Magnolia's on King - Chef Brian Rowe's Southern Cuisine on King and S. Washington Street, Old Town Alexandria


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Magnolia's on King -  We went just after they started taking reservations.

The bar upstairs is WONDERFUL - unique cocktails (range $12-16) I had not tried before with a range that everyone enjoyed something.  We though of trying the appetizers upstairs but figured (wrongly) that we could get them downstairs.  Know that they do not server the drink or bar menu down in the restaurant (To risky to carry down the stairs was reason given).  Bar is well lit, easy seating that can adjust to different party sizes but I can see it getting to full fairly quickly.  I highly recommend 'The Cure'  black bottle scotch, ardbeg 10 year, domaine de canton, lemon juice, honey.  Generous sized drinks and worth the higher pricing.

The restaurant has some serving issues but those were all due to being just opened (wait staff not able to answer questions and having to go check), they seemed pretty inexperienced.  Wine list is good, cocktails downstairs are pretty simple, but the southerner in our group was pleased to see the multiple Fanta options.

Dinner was good but not great, my options were limited because of spice levels (many options are heavy on the hot side).  I had the Bison Meatloaf which was good but not great.  Others had Catfish (Very happy), Fried Chicken (good but not great (If you want great see my review of Tupelo's )) and Denver Steak.  (Range $18-35) portion size was good.

Dessert Cobbler was good as was the Smore's bread pudding but neither worth a special trip

The Southerner with us said the corn bread was to sweet but the greens were wonderful, though the cobbler should have been double crusted.

The chef came out and talked to us for feedback (though later on our Southerner wanted to add some more but there is no email address on the web page) he seemed sincere but also talked down other restaurants when we gave comparisons.

Overall I'll be back for the bar and might give the restaurant another try in a few months once they settle in but not sure since so many better options in that area.

Well lit and Grandma friendly but not sure will make the list to take her to.

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I glanced at the menu, and it looks compelling. I like that it's somewhat limited, because to me that means they're focuing on the quality of a few selected offerings rather than quanitity. But considering the chef's upbringing in Annapolis, I'm surprised he didn't try to sneak in an awesome crab cake, because Washington doesn't have too many of those....and good ones tend to create a buzz and a following.

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We went back just for drinks the other night while on my birthday stumble and I have to say that Magnolia's upstairs bar is one of my two favorite bars (other is Captain Gregory's)  turns out that the brains behind the drinks is Zachary Faden - who used to be bartender at Rouge 24.  We exchanged many food stories as he poured us all some wonderful drinks.  And I was able to convey my thoughts of the restaurant downstairs and he says kinks should be ironed out within the next month and to try again.  

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Tried the restaurant again - Chef Brian has found his rhythm and it is wonderful.

Girls Night Out with the Southern Friend again and we decided to try out the restaurant at Magnolia's again and very very pleased.

They were booked solid but we got a sofa with table in the bar area (which was half tables with reservations) Bar menu is about half the size of full menu but the dish I had seen on web site and wanted was there.

Tonight I was drinking LAVENDER ROYALE : citadelle gin, elderflower liqueur, lavender syrup, lemon, bubbles - usually not a gin fan but have learned to trust Zac the bartender and was interested by the lavendar syrup - they were good, had a few.

Started with HOT PIMENTO CHEDDAR DIP: cream cheese, local cheddar, diced pimentos, hot sauce, served with mini biscuits - I was concerned that the hot sauce would make to spicy for this wimp but the wait staff all knew ingredients and able to describe the heat level (low) - very yummy and great biscuits.

Although the food is very improved I have to say the best improvement was the staff - it was easy to catch the eye of a staff member (and all in branded shirts so easy to find) and they were all helpful, kept water filled, replaced dropped items, ordered next course, All attentive, knowledgeable, and friendly.

Dinner I had the PAN SEARED DUCK BREAST: duck fat and buter poached maple leaf duck breast, whipped potato gratn, white trufe/ bacon crème, wild mushroom bread pudding, caramelized shallots (served medium) - WOW this was amazing - every thing went together, portion size was just right, couldn't tell you which part was my favorite as they were all wonderful.

Friend had the WAGYU BURGER* wagyu beef, brioche bun, peach preserves, fontna cheese, smoked bacon, garlic conft & rosemary fries - she raved at the nice mix of peach preserves on the burger - I had a bite it was wonderful.

Desserts were both great

APPLE, RHUBARB and FENNEL OAT CRISP fresh apples, rhubarb and fennel, local honey, ginger gelato - apples were crisp, ginger in gelato not over powering.

COCONUT RUM CAKE fresh grated coconut, dark rum, toasted coconut, cream cheese and rum glaze, pistachio gelato - WOW so moist and yummy.

Chef Brian stopped by the table to make sure all was to our liking and we mentioned that things were much improved from our last visit.  All around improvement from staff, to food, to selection (not everything was focused on hot sauce).

This has been added to the regular rotation of dinner spots in Old Town!  Definitely taking Grandma there.

Dinner with Drinks (2 each) was $140 before tip, If going on weekend I recommend reservations (They use Open Table) as we got there at 7 and first opening was at 9 (but we were able to grab a spot in bar area as someone else left so worth checking out upstairs for a spot)

Dinner Picture:

12195935_10206708057892846_8986832707763

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We took Grandma to Magnolia's last night and she loved it - updates from the grandma viewpoint.

There is no parking on that block of King Street, and the surrounding blocks are all two hour parking, the closest longer parking is a block and a half away so next time remember to drop her off at the door first then park.

There is one step going in/out but it is well light so easy to navigate, they were able to keep her walker near the table (Many places move to coat check and then she gets embarrassed if has to goto bathroom)  Bathroom easily accessible, clean, and towels (she hates the blow dryers).

Restaurant is very pretty and nicely lighted so she was able to see, She though the staff was very nice and was impressed that Chef Brian came out to the table to say hello.

She had the Chicken Pop Pie, and also tried Sweetie's Shrimp and Grits and my Duck Breast.  Meal was filling but not overwhelmed with to much food.

She wants to go back.

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Went here Sunday evening based on posts from this site.  Great food, ambiance and drinks.  Ate in the lounge, started with the spicy (barely) crab dip then Venison dish and Ribeye - the Meyer Lemon Bread pudding for dessert.  Service was excellent, it was quiet, but the music selection and fire place was a nice touch.  From presentation to check and the handcrafted cocktails all was great.

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