‘Uptown/Down South’ is how Magnolia’s describes its fashionable way with Lowcountry cookery. An 1820s East Bay Street warehouse transformed into a snappy modern dining room with a big painting of a magnolia on one wall and an elevated horseshoe-shaped bar that is great for people-watching (and being watched), it is a relaxed restaurant that takes its cooking seriously.
Start supper with house-made potato chips topped with blue cheese and green onions or Lowcountry bouillabaisse in which the seafood is augmented with Tasso ham and andouille sausage; feast on buttermilk fried chicken accompanied by cracked pepper biscuits, top off the meal with swoonful pecan pie adorned with vanilla bean ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce. While dinner can be a significant event, requiring reservations and a good $50 per person, lunch is half the price and features such happy sandwiches as a Charleston cheese steak, grilled meat loaf, and a ‘three little pigs’ trio of barbecue bunned with jalapeno peach cole slaw.
One nice thing about Magnolia’s is that it serves lunch until 3:45pm and starts serving dinner at 3:45pm, meaning it doesn’t close. That makes it a great place to visit for a mid-afternoon break, when you can find a seat at the bar, order a few Planter’s Punches, and munch on Down South egg rolls filled with collard greens and Tasso ham or fried green tomatoes with caramelized onion grits, country ham, tomato chutney, and melted cheddar cheese.