Magnolia Court Restaurant - Closed

Here's to hoping this little hidden gem in Foley doesn't remain hidden for long.  I've met Chef Danny while he was out and about promoting the restaurant a few times and was suitably impressed with every dish I've tried. I told him, I will visit his turf one day and finally, I did.  The Magnolia Court Restaurant can be hard to find.  There's no real signage out front, but it's by (and part of) the historic Hotel Magnolia.  So that can serve as your landmark.

The lunch menu is limited and from what I understand is constantly evolving to match the fresh, locally grown produce available in the area.  During this hot summer afternoon, Magnolia Court offered a variety sandwiches including a burger, seafood platters, a soup, a couple of salads, chicken fettuccine and shrimp and grits.  The restaurant also offers a couple of specials each day.

Turtle Soup ($4 cup/$6 Bowl)
One of the specials that caught my eye was turtle soup.  Let me be honest with you. Turtle is one of those "proteins" that I have always wanted to try but really didn't have the opportunity.  Plus, even in the south finding a good, reputable turtle meat vendor is hard to do. At Magnolia Court, the turtle is cooked along with ground beef to create soup.  In the end, it tasted like a really pumped up beef stew.  The turtle gave it a very unique flavor.  The texture is much like an oyster or beech mushroom.  It was a little saltier than I expected but still very good.

Fried Green Tomatoes ($4)
Fried green tomatoes were on the menu as an appetizer and it's one of those dishes I always get hoping the restaurant got it right.  Magnolia Court hit it out of the ballpark. The medium-sliced green tomato is lightly dredged in (what I believe is) cornmeal then fried.  The breading is nice and crunchy while the tomatoes are warm but remain slightly firm.  It's served with a remoulade sauce that is stellar.  The sauce has very creole-like notes that worked well with the tomato.

Shrimp & Grits ($10)
It seems as though every southern restaurant has their very own version of shrimp and grits.  Magnolia Court is no different.  Although, I have to give them major points on creativity. As the base, Magnolia Court uses gouda grits that's extremely creamy.  A half a dozen or more shrimp were cooked then tossed in a garlic cream sauce that has some type of pork in it.  I say pork because I can't tell if it's just bacon or pancetta. The whole concoction is then poured over the grits. If you're not a garlic fan, you will not like this dish.   I absolutely loved it.  So much so, I asked Chef Danny for the recipe for that garlic cream sauce. He did one better and gave me a little batch to take home.  Even if I did have the recipe, I probably couldn't duplicate it anyways.

Chicken & Dumplings ($7)
Chicken soup may warm the soul but chicken and dumplings fill the stomach and comforts the heart.  I love southern comfort food.  I can tuck into a bowl of chicken and dumplings any day of the week and be satisfied.  Magnolia Court happened to have chicken and dumplings the day I stopped by and I just had to have a bowl.  This dish was super chunky.  I've always had more soupy chicken and dumplings.  Not at Magnolia Court.  There's huge chunks of chicken along with huge dumplings.  There's no real soup to speak of although what sauce there was.. was delicious.  The chicken itself was a little on the bland side though.  I had to move it around and get some sauce on it; otherwise it kind of taste like plain boiled chicken.  The dumplings were good and tasted wonderful.  For the price, the serving was pretty large - great for lunch.

If you want to try Magnolia Court out, don't be detered by the fancy smancy decor. Apparently, there have been a number of occasions when people walked in, took a look around and walked right back out. Those $400 chairs are meant to be sat on and they're pretty comfortable too.  As for the service,  the host, waiter and apparently all together front of house was one person.  Since I arrived pretty late for lunch, he didn't have any problems keeping up with my brother and I. He was also really tolerant of us ordering something as the kitchen was shutting down for lunch and preparing for dinner.  It was a good experience all the way around.

For me, Magnolia Court is definitely one of those destination restaurant.  It takes about an hour to get here on a good day.  Will I go back? Definitely.  It's going to be on the list of places to eat during shopping trips to the outlet center. This is typically where I would refer you to the website, but to be honest I think it hasn't been updated in about a year.  Everything has changed quite a bit including the hours.  I know Magnolia Court is open for lunch Monday through Saturday.  Dinner is available Friday and Saturday and there's also a Sunday Brunch.  Keep this place in mind if you're in the Foley area.

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