Friday, 12 November 2010
Magnus & Magnus - So Good they Named it Twice
Magnus & Magnus is one of the top 10 restaurants in Gothenburg and has a reputation for being slick, cool and trendy which is all backed up by an excellent wine list and imaginative Scandinavian cooking. So when Cowie came to visit me for the weekend it was my number one choice for a bit of a bit of a blow out. The restaurant occupies a fine corner berth on quirky Magasingatan, which is graced by a shady speakeasy, nerdy murals, hip coffee shops and, now that winter has struck, shops renting sledges.
The menu is cleverly composed by someone who is clearly au fait with Behavioural Economics. They have a two course menu for €39, a three course menu for €49, a four course tasting menu for €49 and a six courser for €59. So you’d be mad to go for the three courser which is exactly what most people would typically go for. As a result you are drawn inexorably into the four course tasting menu instead and therefore spend an extra €24 (including tip) per couple and probably guzzle more wine as well. It’s a perfect example of what Nudge would call a “decoy”. Understandably we choose the four course tasting menu but opted not to pair a wine with each course and instead choose an excellent bottle of reasonably priced Grüner Veltliner. After a very welcome amuse of 80% warm cream and 20% pumpkin we got stuck into the good stuff.
Carpaccio of beef · onion · carrot · butter
Their menu descriptions take a leaf out of St. John’s textbook, opting for simplicity over intricate details. The beef carpaccio was as tender as a Blur ballad with the thyme leaves adding a fragrant lift. The pickled onion worked well, but in contrast, the three styles of carrot, whilst vibrant to look at were rather bland in the mouth.
Perch · Västerbotten cheese · potato · bleak roe
The perch was stunningly cooked, with a soft interior and crumbed shell. Anya potatoes were served simply boiled and curiously, turned into crushed up crisps. It was as if the chef had decided it was a good idea to munch a packet of Walkers and then tipped the dregs out onto our otherwise very impressive plate of food. A dollop of whipped cheese foam and a couple of splodges of bleak roe added further textures, but we finished the dish wondering what was going on. The extra accoutrements were like the bad metaphors in this paragraph that distract from the main point.
Cod · fennel · cucumber · oysters
Cowie’s cod was a triumph. It was perfectly flaky and cooked by someone who would rather die than serve someone overcooked fish. The fennel and cucumber salad was textbook Cowie, but the less said about the burnt, limp chips the better.
Venison · scorzonera · lingonberries · jerusalem artichoke
My venison was deeply flavoured and matched very successfully with a sharp lingonberry sauce, as well as the earthy tones of artichokes and salsify. I’d eat it all over again, every day of the week. But I’d like it even more if it had been cooked for 60 seconds less and with double helpings of the buttery celeriac mash.
Blackberry · chocolate · coffee
Our dessert was a bit weird. Let’s just say that coffee ice cream, cassis infused chocolate mousse, blackberries and stale cake isn’t something that makes me want to do a Gregg Wallace and bite my spoon. It’s more like one of those hideous “concoctions” from Starbucks for people who don’t like coffee.
Despite a few glitches Magnus & Magnus is a very classy restaurant that I’m looking forward to revisiting time and time again for the atmosphere, imaginative food and excellent wine list. It’s tasteful but relaxed and encourages you to loosen up and enjoy yourself without taking itself too seriously. Whilst it isn’t as good as Kock och Vin and isn’t as indulgently fishy as Sjömagasinet, it certainly deserves the warm praise it receives from Gothenburgers. If you’re planning a visit to Gothenburg and fancy an urbane night of Swedish creativity, then Magnus & Magnus won’t let you down. For the full experience have a drink opposite in Puta Madre beforehand.
Kock och Vin