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Mar 9, 2006 01:53 PM

Magnolia, The Bowery, and The Well - A Showdown

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Magnolia, two nights in a row - I am on FIRE!
Well, I had a double (blind) date with a friend, and while I suggested The Bowery as our meeting point, the boys in question chose Magnolia instead.
I wasn't really pleased, as I had the plate-stealing episode the night before, but try try again.
Here's the lowdown -

Magnolia - we started here, had a couple of decent drinks, but because of a very noticeable, increasingly pungent fishy smell, we opted not to dine. It's official - I don't like Magnolia. The major factor? It's right next door to The Bowery, which I LOVE. So why bother with bland food and not-so-nice service?

The Well - The boys opted to take us up the street to The Well for another round. I had never been - very dark and sexy inside, with hiphop music pumpin' and available booths. Nice place - a little outdated - but the drinks? BAD. Martinis and margaritas were icky. Soooo we ended up right where I suggested to begin with (sans le boys, heehee).

The Bowery - This was my fourth trip here, and it solidified a true adoration. We had the Spinach Salad (with hard boiled egg, bacon, candied pecans, and blue cheese - tres yummy) and those famous sweet potato fries. Plus, a couple of smashingly mixed cocktails. The thing about The Bowery, however, is the service - SUCH nice people, who now recognize me and are even more friendly/accomodating. And in the end, when you're looking for your neighborhood watering hole, THAT is what it's all about. Decent bar food, great drinks, nice crowd, and uber-sweet staff. I. Am. Hooked. :)

Ciao 'Hounds,

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  1. Thanks for the reviews. You may have narrowed down a place to go for a girls' night out tomorrow! Do you know if The Bowery gets very crowded for dinner on Friday evenings?

    8 Replies
    1. re: floorpie742

      Bowery isn't really a spot for dinner so much as it's a great joint to nosh on bar food and great drinks. They have seats at the bar and a handful of cocktail tables (with table service), but if you're looking for an actual dinner experience, this might disappoint.
      Yes, Bowery gets hoppin' on a Friday night. You could always make a Magnolia reservation, have a bite there, and hop next door for more good drinks/service :)


      1. re: PoetKitty

        Bowery is not very comfortable for a group of any more than say, 4 ppl. max. Magnolia is better suited to a girls night out sorta thang.

        Both places are fine, glad they're there for more Hollywood options. But Bowery is hardly The Shit. Decent bar food, cute interior (tho they might want to age that pressed tin ceiling a bit) and good location.

        If you want a real meal, go to Los Balcones del Peru down the street, and hit these joints for drinks afterwards.

        1. re: Bacco Mamma

          Was disappointed with all 4 of my visits to Balcones. Mario's is still the place for Peruvian for me!

          Only thing--Balcones has wine/beer, which is great.

          1. re: MG

            Thank you for writing that -- I have only been once to Balcones de Peru and found the food (at least the two dishes we ordered) to be really yucky, though it might be more my lack of experience/tolerance of Peruvian food than the food being poor, per se.

            But honestly, a 'hot' cervice dish that comes highly recommended by the waitstaff? yuck.

            Ambience is akin to a brightly lit cafeteria -- double yuck. Service was decent enough.

            1. re: Max Million

              That warm ceviche at Los Balcones is: 1) a totally authentic dish from Peru's north coast; and 2) is terrific. There are a lot of things to like about Los Balcones, but the camarones a la piedra is the E-ticket ride.

              As far as Magnolia: It is as if somebody surveyed all the menus in Hollywood and decided to cook from the statistical average. Not a bad place to hang for an hour, but the food is stultifyingly dull.

              1. re: condiment

                Yep, I know that it is indeed a real dish. My peruvian friend and her mother told me this as we ate their mediocre food just a few weeks ago--for the last time!

                =) To each his own...

          2. re: Bacco Mamma

            Actually, just two of us girls will be going out and leaving the boys at home. I like the idea of having a few places gathered together like this to hop to! Are they on the south side of the street? I really can't picture where they'd be (I only ever go to Cat 'n' Fiddle over there).

            1. re: floorpie742
              rabo encendido

              Bowery and Magnolia are adjacent to each other on the South side of Sunset, but just East of Vine (whereas Cat & Fiddle is West of Vine)

      2. Yeah, when I read yr review of Magnolia (downthread), I wondered why you ordered something as unexciting as Salmon with veggies and mashed potatoes and figured (accurately, I gather) that it must have been a fairly underwhelming menu.

        Gotta try The Bowery. Sounds kewl.

        Any tips on where to park near the Bowery? Or do you just eat the cost at the Arclight?? (Or do you live close enough to walk?)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Max Million

          I actually didn't order the salmon, by the way - that was my non-meat-eating date. But yes, underwhelming menu is accurate :)

          As for parking, they have valet, but I do find street parking if I arrive around 7 on Sunset and/or Vine. If not, I just pay the $5 + tip and have one less drink (yeah, right) *grin*


          1. re: Max Million

            I'm a huge fan of the Bowery too!

            There's $5 parking directly behind the Bowery/Magnolia. The entrance is located on the street running parallel behind the restaurant and not on Sunset (wish I could be more specific). I never feel safe parking on the street around there and sometimes the valet gets a little backed up.

          2. Totally agree with your assessment of all three places. The one time I went to The Well (leaving from the Bowery, which I agree, has excellent service and excellent drinks, with a couple of female friends) - wow, the place was such a meat market that we turned right back 'round and ended up at Magnolia, which is pleasant enough for drinks.

            But yes, The Bowery. The tall tables would be a tad uncomfortable to eat at, I'd think - they're small, and the bench seating forces one to sit up almost straight - but it's a great place to drink. I've only had the french fries (can never seem to make it there for dinner, although I'm trying) - and sometimes they're a touch too soggy, but on the whole, it's a great place.

            1. Hi Folks-

              The mission of Chowhound is all about finding great chow, discussion that is only about a bar scene, and not about food is off topic for this board. Discussions about bars or lounges that focus on the food served is on topic, but please, no discussion that just focusses on drinks, entertainment or the parking situation.

              Thanks for helping is keep Chowhound a useful, focussed resource.

              1. I have enjoyed Magnolia everytime I have gone. The menu is not extensive, but I have enjoyed both the food and the service every single time. The first time I went with a goup and sat at the big low table in the middle and we ordered family style and tried was all good. Night before last, we went for a nosh after a movie at the Arclight. We sat at the bar and I ate a steak salad which was delish! The bartender was extremely attentive and lovely...

                However, the best food in that little area is really the Hungry Cat.