Urban developers are desperately trying to invent a new Sunset & Vine scene, tailor-made for investors and lifestyle seekers, yet (slightly) freer of the seediness that makes Hollywood & Vine famous. It's centered around the Arclight, Amoeba Music and a few hip eateries. Good luck with that.
With that as the cultural habitat, Magnolia--situated right by the Bowery and the Fabiolus Cafe--should be an attitude-heavy, pretentious L.A. restaurant banging elbows with other attitude-heavy, pretentious L.A. restaurants. It's open every day until 2am, which is a nice thing to have in Hollywood, and it does have a rhythm: every eight minutes another taxi arrives with a trio (always a trio) of angular miniskirted women, who click into the restaurant, eat probably very little, then clack back out and off to whatever club they were going.
But each time we've been to Magnolia it's been a culinary home run. Sit on the front patio along Sunset, in the covered back area, or the immaculately designed interior, all cherry wood and rocks and water, and slightly too musically loud. The waitstaff has always been gracious and enthusiastic, gushing that what we order is indeed to die for or their personal favorite.
We haven't disagreed. Our current favorite appetizer is the risotto-stuffed croquettes, mouth-filling and rich, served with a garlic aioli over arugula. The dinners are properly proportioned, simply presented. The rigatoni bolognese is a hearty veal/pork marriage, not too tomato-heavy and therefore not sour. The Macadamia crust on their mahi-mahi creates a brilliant rockiness of texture, made addictive with a luscious lobster sauce, Chinese long beans and jasmine rice. Even the burgers and grilled ham and swiss are carefully constructed, moist and worthy of plate-cleaning.
A cocktail is as expensive as L.A. standard allows (about twelve bucks), but expertly made, brought out and poured from its tiny metal shaker. I particularly recommend the French Martini (Belvedere vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, made slick and just sweet enough) and the Catalina (Flor de Cana 4-year rum with pineapple, orange and lime, heavy and bitter). Both are subtle enough to sneak up on you after a pair of them.
Dessert. Bread pudding with bananas, chocolate chips and peanut butter? Ridiculous. A mint-chip ice cream and chocolate chip cookie sandwich? Made even better when I went half-mint chip, half-espresso gelato at the waitress' suggestion.
Parking is valet, at an only-at-Sunset-and-Vine rate of seven dollars... or you can park in the Arclight structure for less and march over.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Italian, Hollywood, American, Sandwiches/Burgers/Hot Dogs )
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