12 March 2009
211 Lordship Lane
0208 299 4116
Consider the transformation of one of Lordship Lane's most iconic public houses well and truly complete.
Generations of locals will have different memories of the Magdala - from its humble and dingy beginnings to a reputable comedy and live music venue and in its recent incarnation as a lively yellow sports bar.
But under its new management, Magnolia - as it has reinvented itself - has become a fresh, vibrant and welcoming restaurant and prides itself on a cracking Sunday Lunch.
So after putting paid to the self-enforced alcohol ban to celebrate Danny Bear's birthday (not the Jungle totty, but an equally scary schoolboy chum) on a night down the Lane on Saturday night - we rolled out of bed and into the Mag armed with the Sunday papers.
The huge dining area was heaving with a warming buzz of families and young well-to-does but we were squeezed in to a nicely positioned window table.
There were a few familiar faces from the old days propping up the bar and perhaps still there from the Forest Hill school reunion the night before.
The waitress - dressed smartly all in black - made her way over to us with the menus and to take our drinks orders and smiled unsympathetically as we turned down the offer of wine as we clutched our ailing foreheads.
As we glanced over the Sunday options I took note of the simplistic but effective décor.
The soft pastel walls are well complemented by the flower wallpaper on the bar front and the dried flowers adorning each table. I turned down the offer of a starter as a matter of principle. Sunday lunch is sacred. Having starved my body of breakfast, it is to be waited for and is best eaten hungry I find.
I ordered the chicken while the missus opted for lamb and looked impressed with what she had seen coming out of the kitchen. The chef, who had clearly had a busy morning and was looking for a cool down by the time we arrived, beamed a smile as he worked in the open kitchen which is a rarity in most establishments - and most certainly here.
Our meals arrived with an accompanying side bowl containing the lesser veg to share. The important stuff - the meat, the spuds and the Yorkshire pudding - were served with a huge helping of red cabbage.
An unexpected but quite welcome guest.
My corn-fed chicken was enormous and had a much-appreciated final resting place. It was brilliantly white and slipped off the bone with just a nudge from the redundant knife. The prominent side-kicks played an important role, with everything tasting just right.
The delicious lamb opposite was lapped up by my booze-inflicted better half. It didn't quite stack up to my mammoth chicken, but that would have been like Lester Piggott squaring up to Andre the Giant.
There were some large fatty chunks on the lamb that brought a frown on her face, but she carved her way around it and thoroughly enjoyed the rest as we both sat back completely stuffed.
There was only one option on the dessert menu - but it was a particularly good option.
The piping hot rhubarb crumble was tempered by the smooth vanilla ice cream, giving off a naughtily-sweet taste explosion. We virtually licked the bowls clean before slumping back into our chairs for a second time.
The new Mag is the complete package. It is relaxed, chilled out and serves up some fantastic wholesome food.
I still miss the plasma TVs, the big screen and the unbeatable atmosphere on a busy sporting weekend like the majority of the male population of East Dulwich.
But as the voice of most ball-and-chains, I was reminded: 'There is more to life than football' - and this place seems to have found it.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
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