Monday, September 27, 2010

Maginnity's Revisited - a second chance

A little white ago Mr Cake and I went for lunch with some friends to Maginnity's - a lovely wee restaurant in the boutique Wellesley Hotel. Unfortunately we were very disappointed by our experience there and I wrote a pretty unhappy review, which I definitely don't like doing! However, about a week ago I got a very nice email from John Speak, the head chef, apologising for what happened to us and asking if Mr Cake and I would give them another chance. I'm all in favour of businesses trying to fix things when they go wrong, so of course we said yes.

We arrived at 12, as planned, and were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Our waiter was very friendly, and told us what the fish in the fish dishes was then left us to make our decision. The lunch menu has been updated since our last visit, when the menu was (I believe) the same as the dinner menu. The new lunch menu includes some 'lighter' lunch options (inverted commas as the meals were very generous!), which are also cheaper, and there are a selection of 'sandwiches', which all sound delicious - and there are some items more along the dinner lines, so you can still linger over a gourmet lunch, which might take a little longer to cook, if you prefer. I was impressed with the changes; the sandwiches and other lunchy items, aside from being potentially much quicker to serve, also make me much more inclined to take friends there, as I know not everyone values their food enough to pay $25 for lunch - and they showed that the chef had put some thought into what lunchtime diners might be looking for. :-)

I ordered the fish (tarakihi) and chips, while Mr Cake opted for the beef burger. They sound boring, yes, but both were excellent (I do love fish and chips, though I always feel a bit daft ordering them in a restaurant!). My fish was tender and perfect, with crispy, hot beer batter, not overly greasy, and the serving was generous, with three large pieces of tarakihi. The sauce tartare wasn't overwhelming and went well with the fish - and it's always nice to have a bit of salad with this type of meal! I wasn't in love with the chips but there was nothing wrong with them - my affections in the starchy vegetable section may have been diverted to the side dish of roast buttercup pumpkin we ordered. This was oh-so soft, so caramelised and the hazelnuts went really well with the pumpkin. The only problem here was that actually our mains were already plenty big enough and it was impossible to finish everything!

Mr Cake's burger made a pretty quick transition from his plate to his belly, and the little bit I convinced him to part with tasted great - the beef was cooked really nicely, not dry at all (as so many burger patties can be) and well seasoned. I'm a sucker for caramelised onions and think all burgers should include some, so the onion jam was a winner too.

The waiter asked if we would like dessert or coffee, but although the desserts did look very tempting (brulee with caramelised pineapple, anyone?) our bellies were fairly bursting, and Mr Cake wasn't keen to spend too much time away from work since he has a busy week, so we waddled back to our offices, thoroughly satisfied. We had a delicious lunch, and I arrived back in the office 45 minutes after I left so speed was definitely not an issue today. Both of us really enjoyed our meals and would choose to go back there should a suitable occasion present itself - and I just might have to make that visit sooner rather than later so I can try that brulee! (creme brulee is a fully balanced meal, especially when served with caramelised pineapple. You know it's too good not to be true...)

We were very impressed today but without the chef's email would never have gone back - whats's your policy; do you give restaurants a second chance or is it one strike and they're out?

Maginnity's is located in the Wellesley Boutique Hotel, 2-8 Maginnity Street, Wellington, ph 04 474 1308, Mr and Mrs Cake dined as guests of Maginnity's.


  1. Good on the chef for taking it upon himself to send you that email - that in itself is very impressive. And good on you for giving them another chance. It sounds like they have made some great changes too. Those fish n chips look fantastic!

  2. I'm glad you ended up having a good meal there - it is a nice wee place, but must have been having a bad month in August.

    I'm hungry now...I must stop reading your blog before bed.

  3. Hey its great to hear that Maginnity's went out of their way to make up for a bad experience.

    I find that sometimes a bad experience throws me so much I hate that restaurant/place forever, while other times I'm willing to keep going back, knowing full well that something about the experience will disappoint me.

    For example, we ordered pizza, wedges, salad from Hell pizza soon after it opened and, long story short, it took ages, the pizza had onions (we had asked for no onions), the chips weren't hot, and the salad had a live weevil in it. (!) Even though they tried to make it up to us, we decided never to eat Hell again, and we haven't! As I mentioned the other day, Le Cafe is another - I've had rubbish service and snotty waitresses there so many times that I refuse to go there now.

    By comparison, the Honey Pot Cafe always has terrible service, but yet I go back there, knowing that the service will be bad - and it is - but it's not enough to put me off. Perhaps because I know there are a couple of dishes there that I eat - and that can be a hard thing to find!!

    Funny how that works!

    (On a side note - you always remember good service : In December my in-laws were in Christchurch, and they decided to go to Salt on the Pier - the place I said does good desserts. I looked at the menu online beforehand and realised I couldn't/didn't eat anything on the dinner menu! But there were a couple of options on the lunch menu that I could eat, so I rang them up and asked if they could make me this particular option off the lunch menu, and I would just have a code word-type system so that the 14 other people we dined with wouldn't notice I was having something different and ask awkward questions. Anyway, they really went out of their way to make sure there was something I could eat, and that the end product was suitable. As a customer that sort of service is fabulous :) )

    (sorry for the long comment!!)

  4. Louise, I am super impressed with the chef for getting in touch. :-)

    mrlew1, I'm glad too! It is a lovely wee place, I'd love to have high tea there, perfect venue for that.

    Michelle, funny, I LOVE Hell pizza - we don't have pizza often but I won't have it from anywhere else. I can see how a weevil might put you off, though. Ugh. Salt on the Pier sounds great, it sucks feeling like you're being awkward so awesome that they worked with you like that. Were you giggling on the inside, using your code-word system?

  5. Wow, that sounds worlds apart from our lunch disaster! :-)

  6. It was, I was really impressed - they really redeemed themselves. :-)


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