Magdalen is set in an unpromising location near London Bridge Street. There is a downstairs bar and a few tables, but the main dining area is upstairs. The decor is simple and unfussy, and service is relaxed and pleasant, though not very slick: "who ordered what?". The booking process was also rather unfortunate; I had changed the table from a booking for two to a table for three, and when we arrived they could find no record of the change. Later on the waitress said that they had indeed found the change, but we were still crammed into an uncomfortable corner table with no legroom, despite a regular table for four a few yards away being unused all evening.
The menu changes daily and has seven or eight starters and a similar number of main courses, aiming for rustic British cooking. I started with smoked eel, which had good texture and enjoyable taste, served with a capable remoulade of celeriac, a combination that worked well (15/20). My dining companion's rabbit terrine was hearty and well made, while potted Devon crab and toast was pleasant also. As can be seen, there are no frills with presentation here.
My main course of roast Middlewhite pork was less good. There was a generous slab of pork but it was surprisingly fatty, yet also a little stringy in places. This was accompanied only some slightly undercooked purple sprouting broccoli, and the mild mustard sauce with it did not help to provide any balancing acidity to the richness of the pork. This was troubling, since not only was the pork rather disappointing in itself, but the conception of the dish seems to me somewhat flawed (11/20). Better was smoked haddock, choucroute, sausage and butter sauce. A baked lemon sole with a few tiny shrimps was correctly cooked but had a watery beurre blanc, and the fennel advertised actually appeared as leeks.
A plate of cheese was entirely British: Tunworth, Westcombe cheddar and Colston Basset Stilton; these were in reasonable, though not perfect, condition (15/20). Rum baba was nicely made, managing to be quite moist, which is not a trivial thing to pull off (15/20). Apple tarte tatin was fairly well made, served with good vanilla ice cream which had smooth texture and plenty of vanilla taste. The apples were caramelised but there was no caramel liquid so perhaps it had been made some time earlier. The pastry was crisp but a little hard (14/20).
Bread comprised slices of reasonable bought-in crusty brown bread (14/20). The wine list is fairly priced, with wines from good New World producers like Bonny Doon as well as some pleasant French wines. The mineral water was warm when served, which should really be fixed. Starters ranged from £6.50 to £10.50, main courses from £14.50 to £24.25 and desserts from £5 to £6.