In every relationship I think it’s important to do date night. Whether that’s a romantic meal with your other half, drinks with friends or a chipper with your family.
It is one of those evenings you engross in conversation and laugh until your belly hurts.
It is also one of those evenings that need pre-planned, which my boyfriend forgot about when he double booked me for dinner at Maggie’s Grill after I’d already confirmed dinner with a friend.
There went the Maggie’s Grill reservation.
So when his birthday came around a few weeks later I knew just the place to take him.
If you’ve never been to Maggie’s on Holburn Street let me describe it to you. Think Southern blues street art meets original American drive-thru signage sort of décor with a relaxed seating arrangement and colourful, yet charming walls covered with posters.
Because it was a special occasion I booked in advance, and thank God I did as the place was fully boked every weekend up to booking. When we arrived on the Saturday night it was heaving with folks looking to get their barbecue fix.
There’s no place like Maggie’s in Aberdeen. Other barbecue and southern soul food joints have been and gone, but Maggie’s remains, bringing the ultimate smoked meats to diners who frequent.
The first thing that hits you when you walk through the door is the smell. That finger-licking good barbecue smell.
You won’t smell anything like it anywhere else in the north-east.
Greeted by a charming waitress, we were shown to our table and checked in via Track and Trace there. Our drinks order was fast, a Diet Irn-Bru for me while he opted for Coke.
Around us there was plenty of diners all at different stages of their experience. Some trying their hardest to finish the mountain of food in front of them and some licking their lips in anticipation.
The special starter of fish tacos sounded appetising but we were intrigued by the southern fried halloumi, and the smoked chicken wings.
Our drinks took a few minutes to arrive and we discussed our mains in depth. Would we share? Or not? Should we just order half of the menu and try a bit of everything?
I struggled with what to pick as it all sounded so good. Poutine, chilli, barbecue pulled pork, pulled brisket and gumbo – the list went on.
We eventually placed our order and patiently awaited our starters arrival.
The first to grace the table a mere 15 minutes later was the halloumi (£6.95), closely followed by the wings (£7.95).
Served with the house barbecue glaze, the chunky, cheesy halloumi sticks had been tossed in seasoned breadcrumbs and lightly deep fried.
The cheese was squidgy, but not squeaky as halloumi sometimes can be, and each of the four thick fingers were easy to pick up and dunk into the side of sauce which was packed with smoky flavours.
There was plenty of wings to go around with flats and drums both featuring. I prefer drums as there is always that little bit more meat on them, but it was the skin which was crisp and a Cajun explosion in my mouth which I enjoyed the most.
Smoked high and fast, the wings were served with a blue cheese dip which was incredibly creamy and delicious. The chicken was succulent, but the skin stole the show.
It didn’t take too long for the main event to arrive after. And what a spectacle.
The wooden board of St Louis ribs (£23.95) was paraded around for the whole dining room to see. Watching in anticipation, other diners and I eyeballed the dish, hoping it would arrive at our table.
It arrived at mine and a grin so big the Cheshire Cat wouldn’t even be able to compete consumed my face.
Cooked low and slow, the four massive strips of pork were smothered in the house bourbon barbecue glaze. The aroma was enough to make my taste buds begin to salivate.
The portion was huge and I immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. My complementary sides of onion rings, hush puppies and house pickles also looked very inviting, more so the massive onion rings.
The meat was to die for. It slid off the bones and wasn’t too fatty either, meaning there was plenty of eating in it. I’d decided I was going to enjoy half of my meal and take the rest home. After all, what’s a trip to Maggie’s if you don’t order come beignets for dessert?
My boyfriend’s buffalo southern fried chicken burger was tossed in Louisiana hot sauce and topped blue cheese and buttermilk ranch dressing, plus lettuce and tomato. It too was a hefty size and his dish came served with well-seasoned crisp fries.
The chicken was delicious and perfectly cooked. The ginormous piece poked out of the brioche bun, showing off its size.
He barely managed to finish it and when our food was being cleared the waitress kindly packaged mine up. Not before I could get my order in for beignets.
Four square shaped deep fried pieces of dough arrived 15 minutes later covered in icing sugar. A pot of sweet chocolate fudge sauce was on the side, as was a scoop of Biscoff ice cream.
The beignets were soft and fluffy and melted in my mouth. We had certainly bitten off more than we could chew, but were determined to not see any waste. Together we worked to polish them off.
Relieved, we settled our tab, got our leftovers together and made a slow and steady exit.
There’s one thing you won’t leave Maggie’s feeling and that is hungry.
These portions aren’t for the faint hearted, however, it isn’t the size of the dishes that attract diners to this hot spot.
It’s the attention to detail in the food and bringing something truly unique and different to the city.
My advice? Go hungry and try as much as you can. You won’t regret it.
While prices are a little higher than other local venues, the quality outshines many other offerings thus making it a great date night spot.
Address: Maggie’s Grill, 242 Holburn St, Aberdeen AB10 6DB
T: 01224 582167
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5
Price: £72.85 for two people having a main and starter each, plus a dessert to share a soft drink and two beers.