When Magdalena opened in the Ivy Hotel last year, I took one look at the menu and the prices and determined that we'd probably never eat there. We just can't afford $38 entrees and $25 appetizers. But lucky for us, they participated in Baltimore Winter Restaurant week, so we were able to enjoy a fine 3-course meal at the reasonable price of $35 per person.
The day before our scheduled dinner, I received an email from OpenTable saying that the restaurant had cancelled our reservation. A phone call to Magdalena confirmed that we were still on the books, and I didn't have to pull out the, "don't you know who I am?" card. (No, I haven't ever done that. Mostly because it would be greeted with a shrug and a blank stare.) Probably an OpenTable glitch. But as we left our car with the valet (which is complimentary) and followed the two employees who each opened one of the two doors into the restaurant for us, I still had some feelings of trepidation. Hearing "your table is ready," was music to my ears, as was the jazzy music--including my favorite Ella Fitzgerald--coming over the sound system. We were led to a corner table at the banquette facing the courtyard in the dining area nearest the bar. We like to eat early, for many reasons, and have found that doesn't always get us a good table. In fact, it usually scores us a pretty crappy one, like near the POS station or bathroom. So getting what seemed to us to be a very nice table with a view was a good way to start our meal.
We ordered drinks. I had a glass of Pinot noir, and Mr Minx ordered the Bookie. A riff on a Manhattan, it involved Maker's Mark bourbon and Averna Amaro, garnished with a strip of lemon peel and a Luxardo Maraschino cherry. The drink cost $18, which is just $7 shy of the price of an entire bottle of Maker's Mark at our favorite liquor store. It was tasty, sure, but the price was excessive for such a simple concoction.
Magdalena is a small gem of a restaurant with delicious food and really terrific service. (It was impeccable, not quite formal, accommodating but not intrusive, very polite and friendly. Kinda perfect, actually.) But the only way most of us will ever get to enjoy the place is during Restaurant Week. I urge readers to be on the alert for the summer version of this biannual event and if Magdalena participates again, run, don't walk, to your phone or OpenTable and make a reservation. Otherwise, start saving up to enjoy a meal there at any other time of the year.
The Ivy Hotel
205 E. Biddle Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Posted on Minxeats.com.