An abundance of bars, restaurants and cafes encrust Kingston Foreshore’s lively lakeside promenade, serving up top-notch food with views looking out across the water.
On the weekend, follow your ears to the live music and you will find yourself at Magoo’s Café & Bar. Magoo’s offers tasty food that won’t break the bank in a family-friendly environment.
“People can come here and get a really nice feed for about $20,” says Magoo (born Rodney, but he answers to Magoo), who is fulfilling a lifelong dream to run his own place with his partner Sally.
“This place is five weeks old. Sally and I decided we wanted to work for ourselves again. Yes, it’s a tricky time, but we thought, when is it a good time to open, really?”
Magoo, with a background in sales, has thrown himself back into hospitality with both feet. Sally keeps everything ticking over behind the scenes; she loves interacting with diners and providing great customer service.
“We are a family-orientated business. We get a lot of comments about how friendly and comfortable the venue is,” Magoo says. “There is plenty of space inside, but people prefer to sit outside under the heaters, even on cold nights. They’ve been cooped up indoors for too long. We have electric heaters on the roof, and we turn the gas heaters on, so it’s cozy. There is live music every Friday through Sunday. We’re trying to support local musicians; they are doing it tough and need our support.”
Footy plays out on several TVs, but the volume is muted. This is not a sports bar: “we’ll only play the sound for grand finals. We’d much rather you listen to music or chat in peace.”
Magoo explains his nickname’s origin.
“I was the wicketkeeper for my cricket team. This guy was bowling quick and I wasn’t catching anything. Then, he nearly hit the batsman with a bounce and that ball hit me clean in the chest. The bowler apologised to the batsman saying ‘I wasn’t trying to hit you, I was trying to hit him’ – pointing at me. ‘He’s not a wicketkeeper, he’s more like Mr Magoo!’
“I fought the name for years but once my family started up with it – even my mum calls me Magoo – I figured, why not embrace it?”
And embrace it he has. Their logo even has a nod to its cricket origins.
Magoos’s old records eke out a pleasant retirement at the café, repurposed as drink coasters. They add a nostalgic feel to the place.
Order at the bar, fitted out with rustic timber and corrugated iron, then pull up a seat outside and while away an hour or so watching the world go past over some great food and beverages. Beer’s on tap (and there’s a happy hour) and the wine list is well-thought-out. Or you can choose from the eclectic collection of well-priced cocktails and mocktails.
Before settling on your meal, check out the Bonus Track Blackboard menu near the bar and see what imaginative creations head chef Matthew Wilson is plating up this week. Matthew is passionate about bringing fine dining techniques to a cheaper menu.
“We do a real simple brekky menu,” says Sally. “Our bacon and egg burger with coffee is $12, and our brekky wrap with eggs, hash brown, spinach and relish with coffee is $15. We offer fresh cakes and muffins that change regularly.”
Magoo’s concise all-day menu offers several gluten-free options and can adjust dishes to be vegetarian and coeliac-friendly.
Perfect, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly morsels hog the limelight in the pork belly tacos entrée. Bite through the crunchy exterior into tender layers of meat and fat. The acidity and gentle heat of chipotle aioli cuts through the meaty richness and the grilled lemon wedge adds a tropical touch.
Pretty as a picture, the wild mushroom gnocchi in beurre noisette tastes as good as it looks. Tender pillows of gnocchi, pan-fried in brown butter with wild mushroom and spinach. The brown butter infuses the dish with a delicate nutty flavour.
For dessert, carrot tart! If you love pumpkin pie or carrot cake, this is your sweet spot. Luscious carrot and white chocolate filling baked on a snappy biscuit base and topped with soft thin strips of candied carrot: yum!
It’s comfort food done with style.
Magoo’s Cafe & Bar is located at 27 Eastlake Parade in Kingston. It’s open from Monday to Friday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm (closed Tuesday). On weekends, it opens at 10:00 am. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.