The co-founders of Michelin-starred Pidgin have opened another restaurant named after a bird - Magpie, and this time diners are able to select plates straight from a trolley
Words Hannah Hopkins
The brainchild of James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, the hotly-anticipated Magpie is based on Heddon Street, that lovely bijou-yet-buzzy cobbled square right off Regent Street. Its new style of service makes it stand out from the crowd by offering dishes from a sleek modern trolley, adding a serious sense of fun to proceedings.
The large space is part-industrial chic with high ceilings, a poured concrete bar and leather stools and part-conservatory towards the restaurant’s back wall, where a huge landscape imprint hangs. The open kitchen is a hive of activity, while waiters come back and forth to tables to showcase freshly cooked dishes, mirroring traditional dim-sum style service.
They come filled with modern British small plates such as mackerel crudo with blueberry kosho and fennel pollen and Hoi An-style terrine with nukazuke pickles. Trays of hot dishes are served from the kitchen including udon noodles with paitan broth, calabrese sausage and stracciatella, and grilled celeriac with gjetost and a watermelon barbecue sauce.
We kick things off with sourdough bread, best enjoyed with the accompanying brown butter and yeast, then we move on to trolley dishes of japanese caesar salad with smoked eel and miso, beef tartare with taleggio and truffle chips, beetroot with goat yoghurt and grilled melon with ice plant and black vinegar tofu. Light but packing a flavour punch, there is some serious cooking kudos attached to each dish.
Suitably satisfied but still with room to fill we move onto the tray dishes. Standouts include the fried chicken coq au vin and prawn toast with jalapeno coriander ketchup (we could have eaten them twice over). The pork trotter arancini is less successful, but only if you’re not a fan of squid ink, as we later found out we weren’t…
The trolley concept extends to the drinks too, where a trolley laden with pre-mixed cocktails including Smoke off the Mountain, a rum-based Manhattan-style drink washed with peated whisky that combines Ron Zacapa 23 and Lagavulin 16, and I’m Jim Morrison I’m Dead, with rye, oloroso, and cherry liqueur.
There is a real sense of fun and occasion at Magpie, and it’s good to see that despite a potentially gimmicky serving style, the food is impressive. Even better, breakfast is now on the menu so we can enjoy staples straight off the trolley like granolas accompanied by flavoured milks and yogurts and fresh homemade pastries including a red-eye bun with bacon, coffee and maple syrup. One to tick off the list pronto…