Editor’s Note: Magnolias Restaurant is currently take-out only in compliance with Governor Walz’s executive order on restaurants.
Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.
It’s difficult to overstate the comfort factor of simple, well-made, fried chicken. It’s the complete package: protein and carbs, crunch and tender chew, and when seasoned perfectly, it’s salty enough to hold your interest without swamping your palate. Throw in some coleslaw, and you’ve even got a bit of veg and acid to counteract the deliciously meaty onslaught.
Magnolias Restaurant is a St. Paul joint that does fried chicken right (see also The Coop): you call ahead with your request, allow a 20-30 prep window, show up, and carry away a box of fried-to-order deliciousness. If you go for the “meal” option (8 pieces, $18, 12 pieces, $28) you even walk away with biscuits, thick-as-hell gravy, mashed potatoes, and classic coleslaw.
We liked all the sides (the coleslaw in particular was good, properly sauced without being too sweet, fatty, or gummy), but the chicken was the star, as it should be. It boasted a truly crispy exterior that wasn’t fried too hard or incongruous with the tender meat that it covered, a seasoning level that was appropriate without being aggressively salty, and an overall sense of balance that was harmonious and truly pleasing. This is some joyfully good stuff, prepared without muss, fuss, or pretense.
THE DISH: Fried Chicken, starting at $11 for a regular 8-piece box
THE PLACE: Magnolias Restaurant, 1081 Payne Avenue, St. Paul
THE REASON: Few foods trump fried chicken that tastes like homemade.