Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar Reviewed November / December 2012
Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar sits high overlooking Turtle Cove
Sweeping, panoramic views of this elevated magnitude are a rare find on this notoriously ‘flat’ island paradise. An awe-inspiring vista of the rugged Blue Hills coastline to the left; the infamously spectacular crescent of Grace Bay Beach to your right; and front row centre, take in Turtle Cove Marina, a calm and peaceful sanctuary where yachts and sailboats rock gently at moor. The sunsets from this perspective are unparalleled and unobstructed … equally magnificent from the breezy bar deck or the two-tiered open dining terrace at Magnolia Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Experience an unforgettable evening of fine dining ‘al fresco’ style in one of this island’s oldest edifices constructed of rustic, hand-cut native stone walls. This is true Provo nostalgia, perfectly melded with a dramatic, cosmopolitan and elegantly stylish edge created by long-time restaurateurs and your quintessential hosts, Gianni and Tracey Caporuscio.
Indulge in the warm and crusty foccacia bread served with cruets of balsamic and EVOO as you ponder the appealing and diverse menu of international cuisine with a compelling splash of Caribbean influences. This is ‘uncomplicated cuisine’ featuring fresh, local products.
Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Strudel
Magnolia’s wine list could better be described as an anthology; a comprehensive and impressive collection, indulging both the wine connoisseur and equally befitting those with a more cavalier approach. Each wine features its label, a brief description and even the Wine Spectator score.
Not only have Tracey and Gianni honed dining into an art; they have honed Magnolia’s menu to perfection. There are some long-standing classics here that have become habitual staples of local residents and returning guests. One of those classics is the Tuna Tartare. While the original recipe has undergone a bit of a transformation, this fresh, new creation has become an instant menu sensation! Now served as a delectable ‘duet’, the finely diced tuna still melts on your tongue ‘like budda’; but now you can double your tartare pleasure with ‘Italian style’ prepared with roma tomatoes, fresh basil and balsamic; and ‘Island style’ infused with peppery cilantro, fresh lime juice and a jalapeño kick! I couldn’t resist but blurt out to my dining companion, “That’s a healthy portion!” Whose immediate and animated response was a blissful sigh, followed by, “That’s a heavenly portion!” She boasted of the lovely intensity of the balsamic, meticulously cleaned her plate and ended by saying … “Kind of like nicotine – makes you addicted!” I had to agree as many of my culinary comrades; myself included, return regularly for a ‘fix’ of this revered classic.
Magnolia’s signature dish is the Cracked Pepper, Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna
The Mushroom and Goat Cheese Strudel is the predictable and venerable choice of my fellow diner. He unremittingly raves of its incredibly flakey crust and moist filling. My husband’s passionate pursuit for the ultimate Classic Caesar Salad has afforded him a bevy of memorable and mouth-watering experiences. Eager to add Magnolia’s adaptation to his quest; he appealed for his usual predilection – extra anchovies and extra dressing. He asked and they definitely delivered! This Caesar packed an unqualified “Wow” factor with an alluring abundance of heady garlic and a great depth of flavour. Well, you know what they say … it’s all about the journey!
My husband must have felt rather ambitious this evening. In addition to his ultimate Caesar pursuit, he couldn’t resist the evening appetiser special of Asian Pork Wontons. Served with a slightly piquant sweet and sour dipping sauce, these four crispy little pouches packed a lovely filling of complex flavours. The Cream of Sweet Potato and Plantain Soup caught my eye … delightfully, thick, rich and smooth I was compelled to call it a bisque. The wonderfully crispy plantain ‘chips’ that topped this dish were a perfect balance, complementing the subtle sweet potato flavours.
Now, for those of you who simply gaze at all the amazing appetisers, longing to experience them all … I offer you the Magnolia Sample Platter – four of their popular appetisers all served as one dish for two or for three persons. Salivation is quick to commence as you muse over this flavoursome foursome; Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls – served with a tangy Asian Chili Dip these delectable and crispy pockets are fabulous; savoury Shrimp Tempura with a zesty and smooth lemon-garlic aioli; a melt-in-your-mouth Tuna Tartare and the Grilled Vegetable Mozzarella Stack finished with an intense balsamic reduction. Who says you can’t have your cake … or should I say Sample Platter … and eat it too? And of course, all of the above can also be enjoyed as solo appetiser dishes.
Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Tomato and Coconut Salsa
Signature Dishes proliferate many Turks and Caicos Island’s dining menus. To me, it is the dish that epitomizes the philosophy and attitude of the establishment; what they believe is the appellation; the veritable ‘star’ of their menu, destined to leave an indelible culinary memory on your palate. And while some dishes come and go, Magnolia’s signature dish has been perpetually popular for over a decade – Sesame Crusted Rare Seared Tuna; a perfect paradigm of their philosophy of “uncomplicated cuisine” featuring fresh, local products. A very generous slab of tuna is rare-seared to absolute perfection and ideally paired with a robust and creamy soy ginger sauce. I often observe what’s on the plates as the servers whisk by my table; and the instantly recognizable rare-seared tuna is indeed a very familiar sight! This dish is the other predictable and venerable choice of my fellow diner; who claims, “There’s something in that sauce that’s addictive!”
After a culinary critique like that you would think that would be a hard act to follow; but Magnolia never disappoints. The special catch for this evening was fresh, locally caught snapper or grouper. Two generous snapper fillets were ‘dusted’ with cornmeal and served with a lovely Mango Beurre Blanc, Jasmine rice and a side of seasoned veg. She deemed the beurre blance to be “marvelous” together with an enthusiastic “love the fish!” The Grilled Shrimp was a big hit with my husband – six plump and perfectly grilled shrimp lazed atop a delectable and flavourful Caribbean Curry Sauce. The plantain chips added a fabulous element to this savoury and appealing dish. I couldn’t resist the Oven Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb, particularly intrigued by the accoutrements. The Chipotle Aioli was simply “amazing” the Basil and Potato Compote divine and the roasted red pepper a flawless execution. Also featured is Black Angus Beef Tenderloin; Pistachio Encrusted Boneless Chicken Breast; a Dominican Vegetable and Tofu Paella and the Bacon Wrapped and Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin has garnered somewhat of its own ‘Signature’ status.
Rum Butter Pecan Pie with House-Made Spiced Ice Cream
A 2009 Firesteed Pinot Noir from Oregon was the first of Gianni’s wine picks for our table; very light and quite lovely this was an ideal match to our diverse appetiser selections. We had asked Gianni to ‘step-it-up’ for the main course and his recommendation of a 2010 Greg Norman Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County fit the bill. A “more intense’ Pinot it was great with the tuna and stood up to the intensity of the lamb with a heavier tannin edge.
Another celebrated menu mainstay is the Banoffee Pie; homemade toffee and slices bananas are topped with coffee whipped cream on a crispy graham crust. The Warm Chocolate Cake was sheer and utter bliss; with a fabulous chocolate ganache and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A scoop of house-made spiced ice cream complements the Rum Butter Pecan Pie; absolutely loaded with pecans. On the lighter side; Vanilla Roasted Strawberries are finished with a dynamic sweet red wine reduction, or try the Homemade Sorbet finished with a shot of chilled vodka.
Take your palate to another level at Magnolia Restaurant and Wine Bar!
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