When it comes to good quality soul food, no one quite delivers like the team at Maggie’s Grill.
Located on Holburn Street, the central joint is a homely one at that. It’s warm, cosy and the staff are incredibly friendly – and know how to have a laugh.
Being an Aberdonian, I find we’re quite intricate beings at the best of times and getting good value for money is something that seems to be ingrained in our blood.
Heading out for dinner on a Monday night, I couldn’t bring myself to cook up a measly meal for one. A quick phone call to my mum soon sorted that and she was on her way to meet me at the southern-inspired eatery.
Specialising in high quality barbecue and southern cuisine, Maggie’s Grill has made a name for itself over the years as the place to go for the best smoked meat in town – and when I say the best, I mean it.
Headed up by owners Sebastian and Richard, the duo have brought a taste of the US to the north-east with their quirky wee diner-esque restaurant.
Arriving just after 6pm on a Monday night, the place was packed – and it was the same when we were leaving. Luckily we’d booked, so were promptly shown to our table – perfectly placed beside a cosy radiator.
Having visited before I hoped the food would live up to my last visit.
Forgetting the portion sizes, we ordered two starters to share – Tex Mex nachos and Creole BBQ shrimp.
The starters were massive and messy, and the wet wipes we were handed were covered by the end of the escapade.
A stack of crunchy tortillas were loaded with huge dollops of sour cream which had a slight ranch dressing flavour to it and the smooth yet chunky tomato salsa added a subtly sweet flavour to the dish.
Fresh off the grill, barbecued corn had been cut off the cob and mixed throughout the cheesy nachos, bringing a smoky flavour into the offering. The sweet tanginess of the salsa was met with a fiery heat from chopped red chillis. Cooked onion was also spread throughout, adding a sharp acidity which complemented the heat of the chillis and the cooling sour cream perfectly.
My starter – the shrimp – was mouthwatering. The creole spicy butter and seasoning the shelled prawns were served in was incredible. A mix of Cajun herbs and spices, the oily butter sizzled away as we clawed out two large shrimp each. Breaking into them was difficult with the shell being so hot, but was worth the wait as the juicy, succulent meat melted in our mouths. Served with crusty bread, we lathered it in the butter, grabbing up as much of the melted liquid as we could. The flood of flavours just kept coming. The spice sat on the tip of my tongue and was hot, without being fiery.
A word to the wise, have your wet wipe ready as you’ll definitely need it.
Satisfied with our starters, discussion veered towards our mains as piles of food flew out the kitchen – all of which I was desperate to try.
After what seemed like a millisecond of eyeing up other diners’ meals, our food arrived.
A huge wooden board was placed in front of me with two huge lavish pork belly ribs staring me in the face, not to mention the mound of pulled brisket in a skillet that I’d ordered as my second meat and a cup of house fries and house pickles.
Having opted for the Papa Ray BBQ Plates, which you can customise to how many items you’d like and what meats and sides you want, I’d decided on two meats and one small and one regular side, inclusive in the overall price.
With sides including corn bread, house slaw, hush puppies, chilli cheese fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and Cajun beef poutine with brisket, it had been a hard choice.
The pulled brisket I had was served with a large blob of barbecue sauce smothered all over it. Mixing the sauce into the meat, it instantly melted in my mouth and disappeared down my throat. The meat was so juicy and the sweet sauce added to the smokiness of the meat. A lover of ribs, the two pork belly ones boasted an array of meat and easily tore off the bone. Covered in the same sweet barbecue sauce, it was hard to put them down. The house pickles came with pickled chillis and peppers and brought a real acidic flavour to the dish, which eased off the sweetness of the sauce and the meat. The chips had been fried twice which made them extra crunchy and there were lots of them. If this was what the real south tasted like, I wanted to go right now.
My mum’s country fried chicken dish looked brilliant. An enormous crisp, buttermilk-fried chicken breast was served with southern-style gravy, creamy mashed potatoes on a bed of cornbread stuffing and collard greens on the side. The pickled greens were delicious and the mild, creamy sauce was perfectly suited to the soft chicken. Every element complemented the last and was definitely worth the £16.
We’d been having a good laugh with our server, who really added to our experience and had also given exceptional recommendations the whole night. Leaving the fate of our dessert in her hands, the New Orleans beignets it was.
Arriving piping hot and covered in icing sugar, we carefully manoeuvred our fingers around the fluffy yet crisp doughnuts. Super soft on the inside and deep fried on the outside, the doughy sweet treats rounded the meal off spectacularly.
Served with a scoop of ice cream and a hot chocolate fudge sauce on the side, we dipped them into the sauce, which was sucked up by the beignet. The icing sugar-melted beignet and the bitterness of the chocolate balanced it all out.
Maggie’s Grill is a brilliant restaurant with a diner-esque vibe that makes for a comfortable space to catch up with friends, or even frequent on a date.
It is rustic and prides itself on focusing on promoting local as much as it can.
Sourcing all its beef locally and bringing flavours of the Deep South to Aberdeen, it’s one of a kind in the city – and the one of the few places with pulled brisket on its menus.
Not only is it excellent food, it’s excellent food at an affordable price.
If you’re looking to inject some soul into your life, make sure it’s at Maggie’s.
Address: 242 Holburn Street, Aberdeen
What we had: