“From field to fork and made with soul”; it’s a bold claim from the founders of Maggie’s Grill but then the duo have never done things by halves.
Launched in 2014 by Sebastian Lord and Richard Parfitt, Maggie’s Grill has bucked the trend of local eateries disappearing from the Granite City.
Perhaps it’s their Cajun style cooking, varied menu or the promise of the meat sweats if you can finish their barbecue platter which includes St.Louis spare rib; either way it’s fair to say the venue has proved a huge hit.
The rise of Maggie’s Grill
The Marischal Square base is actually the second venture for Maggie’s, with the original site found on Holburn Street.
It’s heartening to see an independent company thrive, and we soon found out why.
The Marischal Square venue is tantalisingly close to The P&J office, and made for the ideal spot for myself and my colleague, Rosemary Lowne.
We headed over on a grey Tuesday evening as rain hammered off the pavement, and we were grateful for the short walk.
I would advise booking a table in advance, as Maggie’s gets busy pretty fast which we discovered as the evening wore on.
Luckily we got seated without a reservation, and Rosemary was quick to admire the view of Marischal College.
Depending on where you’re sitting in the restaurant, you can watch the display from the fountains or see passers by disappear into the quad.
It’s a great location, and shows off so many elements of Aberdeen in one swoop.
The interior itself is rustic without trying too hard; you could pop in for a casual bite or enjoy a special family occasion without feeling out of place.
Our server for the evening must be commended for helping us choose our dishes, particularly as I attempted to order off menu.
She was incredibly helpful in checking with the chef, and I was delighted when my request was granted for the main course – more of which in a moment.
If you can tear yourself away from people watching, you’ll notice that Maggie’s runs like a well oiled machine complete with a barbecue glaze.
The staff are efficient and friendly without being overbearing, and have genuine enthusiasm for the job at hand – which isn’t always easy to achieve in the hospitality industry.
Back to the menu and there’s a fantastic variety of starters including Tex-Mex nachos, but my heart will be forever stolen by seafood.
Calamari was the only way to go, and Rosemary settled on Southern fried chicken tenders.
The dishes arrived surprisingly quickly and we dug straight in.
The portion of calamari was served with a delicious zingy dip, and the offering was exceptionally generous.
Not overly chewy, this felt like a light option and the flavours were delicious.
It was certainly no rustle up job from the freezer, and Rosemary was equally complementary about the tenders.
So named because the meat really was tender, and again there was so much flavour going on.
The outside was deliciously crispy and we both loved the rustic black serving bowls as opposed to traditional crockery.
Having finished our starters, the mains quickly appeared on the table.
After much debating, I had asked if I could sample the St Louis spare rib as an individual dish.
The chef granted my wish and oh boy, I’m so glad I asked.
The main event
Half a rack of ribs arrived with a mouth watering sticky barbecue glaze, alongside some creamy coleslaw and skin on chips.
Across the table, Rosemary had kept it classic with a buffalo burger.
There was silence for several minutes as we devoured our dishes, a sure sign that all is well.
The ribs were absolutely beautiful, and the meat fell away from the bone with ease.
I apologise to my fellow diners, there really is no polite way to eat ribs.
The coleslaw added some crunch to the proceedings, and I also loved the chips which were very much homemade.
Again, the portions were huge and I asked for a doggy bag to take home my leftovers in.
Rosemary adored her burger, which oozed with blue cheese and hot sauce.
Complete with lettuce and sliced tomato, this was a burger to be proud of.
We both blinked in surprise upon coming up for air, for the restaurant had steadily filled up during the course of our meal.
Maggie’s Grill has that multi-generational appeal, and it was lovely to see young families, grandparents and even tourists dining out on Southern soul.
Despite the sudden influx of customers, the staff didn’t miss a beat and we didn’t once feel forgotten during our meal.
I am sorry to say however, we just couldn’t face dessert.
For my next visit which I’m already planning, I’m saving myself for the signature pecan pie with a side helping of brownie.
Food decanted into takeaway boxes, we managed to waddle to the door.
It was a fantastic meal and we’ll be back once we’ve fully recovered.
Address: Maggie’s Grill, Unit 2, Marischal Square, Aberdeen AB10 1BL
T: 01224 635330
Price: £60.25 for two starters, two mains, one ginger beer and one orange and lemonade.
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5