Magnolia House was dark.
Not the creepy, “who just touched my elbow” dark. More like the “I’ve had a long day and the dimness of this place is relaxing my life” dark. It was exactly what I needed. As my body began to calm down from work and traffic, I took a moment to walk around the restaurant and grab a few shots before sitting down. The entry way, dining area, and bar hadn’t changed a bit since the last time I was in the restaurant. That time happened to be a year ago when I first started Follow My Gut. A few friends and I went to this restaurant for dinner and we had a good time enjoying great food and much needed conversations. This time, I hoped to do the exact same thing but with two foodie friends: Tanaya and Evi. It wasn’t long before the two girls arrived and we already started cracking jokes on one another. After the jokes were done, we took a minute to make some serious selections from the menu.
You would think three intelligent ladies could come together to agree on appetizers. Wrong! After a bit of back and forth, we came to the conclusion to order: Uni Toast ($9), Roasted Kabocha Squash ($9), and the Brussels Sprouts ($10). The uni toast was the first to arrive to the table and it was so pretty! Two slices of toast had a soft spread with a sprinkle of radish, grapes, and maldon sea salt. The toast was crunchy, but the remaining aspects of the appetizer gave it a light and easy taste that it was easy to devour.
Normally I don’t care for anything primarily of vegetables, but the roasted kabocha squash was an exception! The squash was clearly the main attraction in this dish, but it was also supported by a pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, sumac, baby kale, and a tahini yogurt sauce. For this dish, I loved each piece in separate arrangements—which is rare for me. I loved the taste and texture of the roasted squash and the drizzle of molasses, whereas the sauce paired well with the kale and the pomegranate seeds. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it together, it just means it tasted well in a different way.
The last of the appetizers were the Brussels sprouts. A cilantro pistachio pesto, pecorino cheese, smoked bacon, and a crispy poached egg made this dish absolutely eye-grabbing! Every part of this appetizer was delicious but once the yolk dripped from cutting the egg, it added a delightful sauce to the veggies. And the bits of bacon helped enhance it all as well.
When it came to the entrees, we made the decision that we would all order something we wanted, but we could take bites and often chomps of one another’s food. That’s the case until the evil eye comes out which is a clear non-verbal: “Back off my food, you shoulda got it yourself”. While Tanaya filled up on apps, Evi ordered Gus’s Fried Chicken Sandwich ($12). The sandwich comprised of herb cabbage slaw, a sesame ginger aioli, dill pickles, and jalapenos. The crispy sandwich had a juicy piece of chicken with a delectable aioli spread. Add to that, the jalapenos gave the sandwich a spicy kick that only accented the flavor of the plate.
I ordered what may have been the most delicious dish of the night: the Prime Skirt Steak ($22)! An amazing grade of meat was laid out and paired with chimichurri and Belgian fries with smoked salt. The medium-rare steak was immensely juicy, succulent, and tender. Spreading the vibrancy of the chimichurri sauce on the steak only increased the taste of the steak to an almost unimaginable degree. Plus, the thick cut Belgian fries were a perfect side to the meat. This was the dish where my evil-eye came out and I wasn’t eager to share. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it.
For dessert, we all agreed upon the Loukoumades ($8) and the Chocolate Bread Pudding ($8). The loukoumades was a trio of greek donuts covered in honey, cinnamon, and pistachios swimming in vanilla bean semifreddo. The donuts were soft and warm, and sweet and sticky. Stirring pieces of the donuts into a spoonful of the vanilla bean made it taste like a sweet soup. I imagine this to be what Mary Poppins was referring to in her “spoonful of sugar” ditty. I would definitely take it and a theme to the dessert wouldn’t be too shabby. The bread pudding wasn’t too bad either. It had the same vanilla bean semifreddo as the donuts, but it also came with cocoa nib brittle. It was crunchy on the outside (thanks to the brittle) and soft on the inside. Eating the pudding alone it was somewhat dry, but adding the vanilla bean to the mix softened it up tremendously. It was good with the two components together, but not as dynamic when separate. My clear suggestion: eat the two in tandem.
Magnolia House was a lovely restaurant when I first dined there a year ago, and it’s an even better restaurant today. Almost an anniversary of posts, I thoroughly enjoyed a repeat dinner at the restaurant and will gladly do it again in the near future.
Address: 492 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone: (626) 584-1126
Hours: Monday to Wednesday – 4:00pm to 12:00am, Thursday to Friday – 4:00pm to 2:00am, Saturday – 10:00am to 2:00am, and Sunday – 10:00am to 10:00pm.
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Great staff
- Food tastes delicious
- No set parking