SquareMeal Review of
One for sorrow, two for joy: your enjoyment, or otherwise, of Magpie is likely to depend on how much you buy into its trolley concept (apparently inspired by State Bird Provisions restaurant in San Francisco). Most of the food at this new bird from the Pidgin team arrives in no particular order (and not particularly warm) on trolleys and trays; the constant interruptions to a meal that this necessitates, coupled with the fact that the sharing plates yield only a couple of mouthfuls each, left us with the impression that the best way to eat at Magpie would be flying solo. Sparky Lindisfarne oysters with a scattering of pork scratchings; beef tartare blobbed with French’s mustard; a zinger of a pain perdu, the eggy bread filthed up with stinky, sticky Epoisses cheese; a deep-filled wedge of sweet prawn toast, seductively draped with lardo; and music-paper bread with tête de moine cheese shaved into a frilly ruff, all impressed as miniature marvels. Non-trolley dishes (straight from the kitchen) include a rich puck of kombu-glazed lamb neck with grainy polenta and almond pesto, but at £17 it was hardly any larger (and double the price) than what came from the trolley. Magpie’s winning way with global ingredients certainly shows chutzpah with stealing the best ideas from around the world; a dozen wines on tap (including fino sherry) and charming young staff, meanwhile, are ideas that other restaurants should consider nicking. But the trolley should never have left the starting blocks.