6266 ½ Sunset Boulevard (@ Vine)
Hollywood, CA 90028
There are many ways neurotic, psychotic, slightly obsessive-compulsive girls catgorize guys. In all of my thirty *ahem* *cough* years, I have found that guys fall into one of two categories – either they are great husband material, or they are great boyfriend material.
Great husband material are the guys who, obviously, will be or are great husbands. They’re soft. They’re sensitive, reliable, they take care of you, they work hard, they provide, they cook well, and if they don’t cook, then they sure as hell love your great cooking. He reads the New York Times (hell, he just reads), he wears Polo shirts, comfortable shoes, and always carries a jacket - mostly because you might get cold. He’s the one that you take home to your parents and they absolutely love him.
Great boyfriends, on the other hand, you don’t always take home (to your parents, that is). Sure, there are some who are sweet and sensitive, but girls don’t really like that. We know that in the end we want to marry the sweet ones, but for now, we want to be with an a$$hole boyfriend. He roars up in an expensive car that receives more love and attention than anyone in his life would except himself; he has longish, maybe short, depending on what’s “in,” bedheaded hair, he’s got a few tattooes, some that never see daylight (but oh, you’d like to see them), he’s dirty on purpose, he treats you like $hit, and that makes you even hotter. He looks good. He smells good. But he’s very very bad.
It is rare that a guy is both. Obviously guys are boyfriends before they becomes husbands, but it doesn’t mean they are great at both. Then again, they could be great at neither, too. In that case, they better be very good-looking and gay.
Regardless of how we categorize men, restaurants fall into two similar categories. In all of my thirty *ahem* *cough* years, I have found that for the most part, restaurants fall into one of two categories – either they are great husband material, or they are great boyfriend material. Oops. I meant that either a restaurant serves great food and you’d love to go there with your husband for dinner, or a restaurant serves crappy food, but the scene is good, making a great place for a date with your boyfriend. *phew* I almost didn’t get the parallel myself.
I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help but automatically assume that Magnolia would be a great boyfriend. It has the word “Hollywood” already attached to it. There are plenty of restaurants that serve incredible food in Hollywood proper, but there are just as many places where you have to have an eating disorder or a drinking problem for the food to go unnoticed. Magnolia could have gone either way.
Magnolia calls itself a restaurant and lounge, and for good reason. The space is small, and the two front dining areas, divided by a tiny bar and a step up, couldn’t possibly have more than a dozen tables. More space is dedicated to the “lounge” aspect, though the hostess mentioned that there was patio seating in the back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the nerve to venture back there. We settled into a corner booth in the upper dining room, which sounds ooh la la, but when there are only two (three maybe?) tables, every table is a corner table.
The back corner of the interior is set up like a living room with potted plants (which have to be fake because I doubt they ever see the light of day), dark chocolate leather couches, sassy red arm chairs, and a low coffee table so as not to obstruct others’ view of you. It could have been straight off the pages of the “Manhattan” section of Pottery Barn...or a garage sale. It’s hard to tell exactly because Magnolia has a sort of sleek, chic, minimal decor, but then has some funky elements like walls and columns covered with glossy white bathroom tiles, shiny foil wallpaper that I swear was lifted out of someone’s basement rec room, and an interesting ceiling. Yes, I shamelessly swiped photos from Magnolia’s website because I just didn’t have it in me to tease the starlet wanna-bes draped all over the furniture like a Louis Vuitton magazine ad with a flashbulb. Now that I think about it, I should have done it.
There were people in Magnolia and there was light, background music, but the atmopshere was eerily quiet. Not silent, but hushed, as if we had stepped into a library, everyone had turned to see who had let the breeze in to ruffle the papers, and were now whispering about our clothes and hair. But it never resumed a normal dinner-level volume the entire time we were there. That’s neither praise nor criticism – merely an observation.
Magnolia’s menu is mostly plain ol’ American, somewhat like a steakhouse on a diet. I say "mostly" because though there are things like shrimp cocktail, macaroni and cheese, BLT, and a grilled pork chop, some of the appetizers aren’t exactly American. They are things that you would serve at a swanky cocktail/dinner party at your house – a creamy hummus, spinach and artichoke dip, and a seared ahi tuna. The ahi tuna comes with wasabi mashed potatoes, but that’s okay, because the offerings on the menu are purposely a decade or two behind. Shrimp cocktail, right?
The service was in earnest, but still, not very knowledgable nor efficient. I rather liked Magnolia, so I don’t want to just say our server was dopey and slow. When we ordered a crab and Brie cheese quesadilla as a starter, his face fell. “I don’t think we have that tonight.” He doesn’t think? Exactly. He went to go check, and we found out that indeed, they were “out” of the crab and Brie quesadilla. I am quite sure that they don’t just have crab and Brie quesadilla Lean Cuisines laying around in the freezer and suddenly one day they are “out,” especially so early in the evening. It couldn’t have been that every single person in the restaurant who had been there minutes before us had ordered the crab and Brie quesadilla. Salad, perhaps. Fattening crab and cheese? I don’t believe that. Then again, they may have ordered it just so they could look at it on the table. The server told us the kitchen was out since yesterday. Now that was hard to swallow because if they were out since yesterday, they had all day today to go shopping. I’m sure the crab and Brie quesadilla is good, not particularly outstanding, but you know how how it is when you can’t get what you want. So I ordered another Citron/soda.
Dinner was not great, but it was good enough. It’s fairly difficult to
“mess up” an iceberg wedge unless you start with old, wilted lettuce and Kraft blue cheese dressing. Scratch that. Kraft isn’t all that bad when you’re "out" like you’re out of quesadillas. Ingredients in salads were fresh, with simple presentations that were still more stylish than say, Denny’s (but you’ve got to love their Moon Over My Hammy, so I’ll shut up now). Sandwiches are fine, but sometimes it hurts to pay $10 for a chicken sandwich. I just make myself feel better by telling myself that the sandwich costs $6 and the even mix of crisp and soft French fries made up the balance. Our table also ordered a New York Strip which certainly looked nice from across the table, but I didn’t try any of it. I have a weird thing about steak in restaurants that aren’t specifically steakhouses. Perhaps I have been burned too many times by a medium steak that I ordered rare. However, I can only guess that the steak must have been good, for the plate was clean by the time Mr. No-Crab-and-Brie (there it is again! I just can’t let go! I can’t!) cleared our table.
In the end, I had to conclude that it was great boyfriend material, especially since Magnolia is open until 3 am and offers a late night menu for sobering up post carousing around Hollywood. The food was decent, but I didn’t love it. I wouldn’t marry it. I bash Magnolia a little for its hipster vibe, but that’s not really fair, because hipster isn’t bad. Uber-hipster is bad. But, we’re in Hollywood. I can’t act like I like it that much.
With a little time to soften the edges, though, a few introductions to the family, and perhaps a copy of the New York Times strategically left on the table, Magnolia has the potential to be great husband material, too. I’d definitely take a chance on it again.