For Nicky’s birthday last night we’d got a plan to join some friends for dinner at Rustico, an Italian restaurant which has been attentive and good food in previous visits. To be fair we hadn’t booked, they were very busy when we turned up, and the waiter said he’d get us a table for 8:30pm – not a problem, there’s a very good pub across the road. Returning at 8:30pm there were no tables ready for us, three tables full of people hadn’t been seated in front of us, and we were herded upstairs to a bar with no space and a very confused waitress – total chaos and Gordon would have gone mental in the kitchen. Plan B then.
Out of the window and across the road we saw “Magdalene’s”, a fairly new restaurant specialising in ‘Mediterranean cuisine’ (it’s pretty much next to the Talbot & Falcon, where Cantors used to be). A short walk over there for a recce and we got a table within a minute. Salvation!
Magdalene’s menu is primarily Greek and Turkish, with a couple of interesting house specials alongside more traditional dishes – and no predictable kebabs! I started with ‘keftedes’, herbed meatballs in a tomato sauce which tasted freshly-made; it’s always nice to be able to identify ingredients but it not detract from the dish as a whole. They probably batched the meatballs but they were very well cooked, remaining firm without being tough or overcooked.
My main course was ‘Sarsem fish’, small pieces of halibut, salmon, king prawns and calamari cooked with red onions and asparagus, and flambeed in ouzo. The flambee was evident in the slight crispness of the calamari on the outside but not to the point of them being singed to rubber, and complemented the sauce (it’s easy to get sauces wrong on calamari, it being a subtle flavour). Served with rice to soak up the sauce, the portion amount was just right with not too much or too little, leaving with a simple feeling of well-being rather than over-stuffed.
(It being Nicky’s birthday we couldn’t get away without a pudding, although I didn’t partake. Nicky’s vanilla cheesecake was home-made, and Alice’s chocolate cake was very light and fluffy apparently.)
The service itself was excellent – our attentive and friendly waiter Taf was never far away, and the price was right. We were served quickly even though restaurant was about three-quarters full. Very much recommended, we’ll go there again.
(They have a website which, had I seen it first, would probably have put me off… so quite glad I didn’t see that first!)