Charleston is home to towering centuries-old moss bearded oak trees, the sweet fragrance of blossoming magnolias and a charm that surges throughout the city as fast as the warm summer breeze off of the Charleston Harbor can find its way through this romantic southern town. Ask any local in this captivating location to name their top five restaurants in the city, and we guarantee that in their catalogue of dining establishments will be Magnolias on East Bay Street. A definite must-visit eatery, the inviting pale pink facade of Magnolias restaurant will welcome you inside with its decorative squared-off columns and wrought iron detail shaded by neighboring palm trees along the sidewalk. Serving locals and attracting visitors alike, this culinary gem is by far one not to miss..
The city streets are enchanting. Southern and sophisticated at the same time, Charleston was named ‘Friendliest City in America’ by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2010, came in second on their infamous list of ‘World’s Best Cities in the U.S. and Canada’ in 2011, and was awarded the magazine’s #1 spot for ‘Fine Dining Restaurants’ in 2012! Visiting this enthralling part of the country will prove just why. Between the well-mannered friendly locals to the fine consistent southern cuisine to the stunning comprehensive views across the harbor and multitude of attractions and hospitable luxurious lodging available on a year-round basis, this place has become one of our favorites to visit when our travels take us to the southeast.
Here’s one of those restaurants that had very memorable bread service. Perfectly crusted on the outside, soft and warm on the inside (with a house made flavored butter) gently blanketed in a white linen napkin upon being served. Incredible flavor, visual delight, and presentation galore, this bread is the perfect method of starting off a meal at Magnolias.
Fresh-Baked Bread Served With Flavored Butter
The restaurant offers a full bar and mixes and pours some pretty sensational liquid temptations if you’re in the mood for a relaxing libation with your meal. Above, my husband and I enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay and a mixed beverage from the bartender before placing our orders.
One of our most memorable entrees we’ve enjoyed probably too many times is Magnolias’ Parmesan Crusted Flounder ($15). Yes, many establishments prepare a similar version. However, they don’t prepare theirs with jasmine rice and creek shrimp pirloo, lump crab meat, sweet corn, tomato and asparagus salad and top it off with a citrus beurre blanc sauce that screams fabulous! But Magnolias’ own Executive Chef Don Drake executes this and other dishes excellently. The tender fish nearly melts upon contact of each bite, while the light citrus beurre blanc details and enhances every tasty sensation in this dish.
Parmesan Crusted Flounder
A common menu selection I have been guilty of ordering on more than one occasion is the Pan Seared Lump Crab Cake ($14). Jasmine rice and creek shrimp pirloo (we can’t get enough of this rice pirloo), sauteed spinach and a tomato butter sauce that creates a flavorsome edible foundation for a perfectly-crafted lump crab cake just waiting to be devoured…
Pan Seared Lump Crab Cake
Another item I’ve personally enjoyed was the Crab Stuffed Ravioli in a savory creamy sauce accompanied by bits of apple wood smoked bacon, yellow corn kernels, sliced grape tomatoes and green onion. Not the lightest item one can enjoy, but certainly a delightful explosion of sensational flavor between the tangy freshness of the tomato, sweet crunch of the corn and heartiness of the delicate crab meat encased by expertly-cooked ravioli. (Unfortunately, we learned that the Crab Stuffed Ravioli entree is no longer an item on the Magnolias menu, as items sometimes change due to seasonal availability of the freshest ingredients.) However, there are certainly many others you will enjoy indulging in!
Crab Stuffed Ravioli
We always enjoy our visits to the city of Charleston, and at the top of our list when there is having lunch at Magnolias. We think you’ll enjoy it as much as we always do. Southern elegance, unparalleled charm and courteous friendly staff serving up unforgettable southern fare in an upscale, yet relaxed environment.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Classic decor and fresh branches of blossoming fragrant magnolias adorn the front dining room against a red bricked wall in between windows. A fine dining ambiance is present, but there is a casual feel which is also very warm and inviting.
- FOOD / DRINK: Prepared fresh by Chef Don Drake and plated in an artistic and beautiful-to-the-eye manner, every dish arrives at your table in a timely fashion and tastes like love and care went into each bite!
- LOCATION: Magnolias is located at 185 East Bay Street in Charleston, SC 29401.
- HOURS: This establishment is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 AM – 3:45 PM. Dinner is available Sunday through Thursday from 3:45 PM – 10 PM, and on Friday and Saturday from 3:45 PM – 11 PM. Sunday brunch is served from 10 AM – 3:45 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Always smiling, friendly hosts to greet patrons upon entry, hospitable and professional servers, and generous bartenders shaking up and pouring sublime libations.
- PRICE / VALUE: Always fair and reasonable. Take a look at the link below to Magnolias’ website to view the menu. We think you’ll feel the same for what’s offered.
- CORKAGE FEE: $25 per 750mL bottle
- CONTACT INFO: Phone – (843) 577-7771, Website – www.magnolias-blossom-cypress.com
- PARKING: There are several metered parking spaces available along East Bay Street, neighboring streets, and nearby city parking lots for your convenience.
- TOTAL BILL: On lunch dates, my husband and I have never spent more than $60 (including tax) for a couple of entrees, a few drinks and sometimes a shared dessert. No complaints there due to the fantastic service, cuisine and ambiance.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.