Magoo’s lives up to its warm, inviting promise

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Fish and chips… the panko batter with paprika on the fish was super crunchy. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

“The staff [at Magoo’s] are attentive and want you to be comfortable. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do to make your visit a happy one,” says dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON

MAGOO’S is a new café and bar on the Kingston Foreshore that lives up to its promise to provide a warm and inviting place to enjoy a drink, a bite to eat and live music on weekends (when COVID-19 restrictions allow).

Wendy Johnson.

Staff are attentive and want you to be comfortable. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do to make your visit a happy one.

Let’s start with the pricing. Magoo’s, even though it occupies a prime spot on the expensive Foreshore real estate strip, offers wines by the glass starting at $8 (and $30 by the bottle), cocktails sitting at $16 or $18 and bottled beers mostly $9. It’s great value for the Foreshore where I semi-recently paid $32 for two glasses of ordinary chardonnay at a bar. It’s nice to know you can head out without breaking the bank.

The food is also reasonably priced, with specials on our visit $14 to $20 and mains topping off at $22.

We loved both entrees, one from the set menu and one from the specials.

The salt and pepper squid ($15) was magnificently tender and tossed with a flavoursome combo of coriander and chilli. It was served with a cream aioli and next time I may order that as a main. From the specials, we indulged in the Spanish garlic prawns ($18). Like the squid, the prawns were super tender, absolutely delicious and worth every bite.

Salt and pepper squid, and Spanish garlic prawns… both super tender, absolutely delicious and worth every bite. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The winning main of the day was the gorgeous potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms and baby spinach in beurre noisette ($20). It packed a punch on flavour and the gnocchi wasn’t heavy as it sometimes can be. The dish also looked pretty on the plate.

Guinness pie… tender and tasty beef but the mash was cold. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The beef in the Guinness pie was tender and tasty but my mash was cold and the gravy didn’t seem like it was made in-house ($19). 

The panko batter with paprika on the fish was super crunchy and the truffle fries were cold ($22). Staff promptly dealt with the issue by bringing another batch of the fries, which were lovely with bits of truffle.

On our visit, the music was by Mitch Canas who has been on the scene for yonks and is always a joy to listen to.

Magoo’s was doing a stellar job controlling social distancing, better than most places we’ve observed of late. Hand sanitiser was available on entry and staff made sure everyone registered. There was even a small red rope at the entrance to help maintain control.

Magoo’s is on the water, across from Go Boats. It’s challenging opening a new venue in COVID crazy times and Magoo’s needs to tweak some operations, which I’ve no doubt it will. The commitment is there for sure.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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