Cafe Magnolia

What a downer.

Here’s the part that caught me up on the web page for Cafe Magnolia, which is a cute little place across the road from Moe’s — yeah, that’s Best Wings in Harrisburg Moe’s.

“Cafe Magnolia offers a casual, intimate, but contemporary dining experience. Stringent standards of excellence in service, food presentation, and quality ingredients, married with delicious innovative and traditional cuisine concepts, complete the dining experience.”

As a word guy, I don’t see “casual” and “stringent” belonging in the same description. As for the quality ingredients …

Well, okay, I understand the owners have opened a place in Hershey and maybe they’re too stretched to pay attention to this place. But jeez.

We had to wait a while for our waitron, and when she showed up she was obviously pressed for time. “Hi-my-name-is-whatever-and-i’ll-be-your-server (big breath) and-our-specials-are-blablablah …”

I didn’t quite catch the specials, but i know they were announced with no price tag, which always is awkward. My experience is that when people don’t tell you the price, it’s because they’re embarrassed. So either I’m supposed to order on faith and not gasp when the bill comes, or ask, and then bail out at some theoretical price point. Ugly. Not necessary.

We ordered the appetizer tasting platter, which took roughly forever to come. Maybe they had to catch the ducks for the duck tenders in almond batter. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have the apps ready to rock at dinner service, don’t offer a tasting platter.

Next came the house salad, which was some chunks of iceberg strewn on a plate with a couple arugula leaves on top, served with a house “Italian dressing” that appeared to be oil and water. (No, they didn’t mix.)  Why?  Why bother offering a house salad, if you can ‘t make it interesting or tasty? A simple green salad would be fine, if the greens and the dressing were good.

At that point, I was glad we hadn’t ordered big food.

Dee had the South of the Border Salad, grilled filet mignon with sour cream, black bean and corn salad, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, salsa and tortilla strips with chipotle ranch dressing. It was outstanding.

I had capellini with pomodoro sauce and meatballs. Meatballs were good, sauce was okay, pasta was overcooked. Angel hair pasta is delicate. It needs watching, and deserves it.

For me, Cafe Magnolia = **


1 Response to “Cafe Magnolia”

  1. 1 Sherrie
    August 10, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    My experience at Cafe Magnolia was so boring and forgetable. I had lunch….a portabella wrap with pesto. Simple fare. Where the HECK was the pesto? Flavorless pesto. That’s just sad and tiresome. Lazy is the word. And I had to wait for a table. My boyfriend and I have a word for this type of food…museum cafeteria food. But actually, that’s not true. The MOMA had very good food when I was there.

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email news and reviews to:

paddydear@epix.net or pcarroll@patriot-news.com


In culinary school and getting ready to trade the writing life for the cooking life. Or not. Might do both. At the moment I'm a feature writer for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. My name is Pat Carroll.

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