A Vienna Thai Café That Will Enthrall
The vacant building in Vienna was going to be a Thai grocery plus supply space for Sisters Thai, two of the area’s finest Thai restaurants in Mosaic and Fairfax. However plans changed and Magnolia’s has, in just over five months, become a hugely popular Thai cafe destination in its own right for those who appreciate the best in Thai cuisine. In fact, Magnolia’s is so popular that parking can be a challenge (they’ve added valet parking) and there are times when the queue for a table can get long with up to 30 people waiting. It’s worth the wait.
Tammie, co-owner with her husband, Dew, says that to experience this type of Thai café one must travel to New York City or Thailand itself. The dishes they serve at Magnolia’s are very popular in Bangkok. Her customers love it because it’s so different. Cafes around our area are largely self-serve but here one can enjoy full service.
Magnolia’s is so named because the magnolia flower smells good and looks clean and it signifies nobility, perseverance, and love of nature. The magnolia tree is beautiful and is pretty strong – it’s meant to last. So is the restaurant.
The owners have created a very comfortable space for dining. There is an eclectic assortment of art and vintage items throughout the space. Tammie admits that in working with the designer, both she and Dew had to agree on everything, except the women’s bathroom. There she was allowed to have it just the way she wanted. (It’s worth checking out when you come in to eat.) There are tables both on the first floor and the upstairs floor which previously had only been used for storage.
The menu varies throughout the day with coffee and seven varieties of crispy crepes served all day and additional breakfast items of croissants, muffins, and fried chicken sandwiches served 6:30 am – 11 am. Staring at 11 most of the menu moves to appetizers like steamed dumplings, mummy shrimp and more. There are soups and a long list of entrees like Khao Mun Gai (steamed chicken on rice), and Bamee Poo Moo Dang (egg noodles with roasted pork, crabmeat, and chinese broccoli).
As one would expect in a dessert bar, the dessert selection is delightful. There are their signature honey toasts, waffles, Mango Sticky Rice and so much more.
We were delighted to sample several of the dishes for this story and the food was extraordinary. There was nothing simple – only a complex combination of flavors in every dish – like mini-explosions of flavor with every bite. Magnolia’s has brought Thai cooking to new heights. The Gai Gob Green Curry( crispy fried chicken, plus coconut milk with bamboo shoots, eggplant, red pepper, and basil) was a cascade of flavors with the chicken just as light and tender as one can imagine. The Khoo Mok Gai, (yellow curried rice and marinated chicken, chicken broth and sweet and sour sauce) was a perfect blend of ingredients to excite the palate. Five different drinks were served, each more beautiful and delicious than the last, from the sweet and fruity mango freeze to a new menu item, the hot Butterfly Pea Latte, with a lovely, subtle taste. The piece de resistance had to be the Honey Toast: Nutella Lover. The toast itself was a 3-inch tall cake that was covered and surrounded by chocolate ice cream, strawberries, a wafer, a Twix bar, mini-marshmallows, a macaron, a nutella candy, and whipped cream. Delightfully sweet and truly decadent.
The biggest problem with Magnolia’s is deciding what to order next time. For I fell in love with each dish and want them again, but I’m also excited to try the rest of the menu. Make plans to visit soon.
See the full menu at www.magnoliaofvienna.com. Then visit them at 431 Maple Avenue West, Vienna, VA 703-268-5481. Open 7 days, 6:30 am- 10 pm.
Photo credit: Rick Mundy