Find and book great restaurantsFind a Restaurant
|Address:||152 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU|
|Tel:||020 3544 0839|
|Price: £47.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £52.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 6.30-10pm|
This review hasn't been rated yet.
I have a spectacular, cat in a bath shaped aversion to being that guy eating at the only table in a large unwelcoming restaurant. There's the sense of paranoia that comes with the assumption that everyone knows better than you, the sneaking doubt that the food can't, just can't, be any good and a wild flight of fantasy connected with the possible contamination from the tears of the chef / owner / investor peering out from the little door in the kitchen hoping against all hope that you're actually going to morph into a party of thirteen.
I mention it as heading towards an early dinner table at Magdalen, I had exactly those thoughts. After all, it's stuck in the trafficblown hinterland between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, handy for absolutely nothing, and just that bit too far away from Bermondsey Street to get much passing trade.
I really shouldn't have worried. On a misty, misserly autumn evening full of threatened drizzle and pavement leaf crunch the Magdalen engulfs you like that warm cozy welcoming local pub you know you can't have because you live in London.
Warm walls in deepest goulash line the handsome old boozer, now a fully functioning restaurant. The front bar hosts sofas for hopeful walk up and could possibly function as a working local pub, if mine smelt as nice as this though I'd never leave. The back room and the upstairs are table filled. White paper cloth and excellent lighting brighten the space.
My guest started with a superb cauliflower soup. Admittedly it had more butter and cream pumped through it than strictly necessary but that worked wonders for both richness and texture… Nutty ribsticking goodness, the surface studded with roast garlic and tiny florets of cauli rested on a thick slick of autumnal comfort.
I went for a dish of fried calves brain with a mustardy, egg mayonaisey gribeche as much because I've never seen it on a menu before. It was challenging, more for the concept than the texture or flavour. Barely discernable lobes came as three breadcrumb fried patties, had it not been for the menu I might have been eating a subtly flavoured soft cheese, foie gras-like in texture. A little bland and pappy, the herby mayonnaise gave it a necessary bite, but I could have done with smaller patties, and a higher concentration of breadcrumb. The voice in my head proved a slight distraction, like having someone remind you about stillborn chicken embryos mid boiled egg.
Mains were mostly meaty, other than a student standby potato and cheese pie in a puff pastry, saved from sanctimoniousness by deleriously good Ardrahan cheese oozing healthily through and a side salad of refreshingly different dandilion.
I flatly refused to share any of my beef cheek. Braised for what tasted like days in a girolle and onion reduction, sweet and tender meaty puck nestled in a smooth Jerusalem artichoke puree. The only complaint was on the texture, the meat fell apart when you showed it a fork and the whole thing, delicious as it tasted, was smoother than Justin Beiber's PR machine.
By now flushed with an excellent house red and coming close to satiation. Quince crumble, a pear and almond tart and other desserts were sadly a little too wintry to tempt. They do however have some excellent salted caramel chocolates that slid down perfectly with coffee.
Overall, Magdalen is a great example of the perfect local restaurant. Friendly service, faultless cooking of good ingredients and the feel good equivalent of a laugh with a great mate, it's certainly somewhere I'll be back to again and again.