There’s a huge interest in Soul Food from America’s Deep South. Recently on our TV screens we have seen programmes focussing on food from the region, with the Hairy Bikers and more recently Reginald D Hunter.
It’s not too unusual to find the occasional “Cajun” dropped into the description of an item on a menu to make it sound exotic and exciting. Often, however, the results are not as good as the hype.
So, it is most interesting to find that Aberdeen has a restaurant totally dedicated to Soul Food – Maggie’s Grill in Aberdeen’s Holburn Street. The taste of New Orleans right here in Aberdeen
It is a fairly small restaurant occupying two traditional shop units. The atmosphere is informal and, while the size means the tables have to be quite close together, it doesn’t feel cramped and the atmosphere is good.
The specials on the night we visited include the inevitable gumbo, but being seafood intolerant that joined the blackened salmon and fillet and fish sandwich by being ‘out of bounds’.
If you are also not too adventurous, you can play it safe with a range of build-your-own Aberdeen Angus beef burgers and southern-fried chicken burgers. But we fancied something a little more authentically Soul Food.
After a bit of a dilemma choosing from the mouth-watering options, my partner chose the Low ’n Slow Pulled Pork. Having had a sneaky taste, I can confirm it was superb. Packed full of flavours, it was nevertheless a balanced palette with no flavour overpowering the others. The restaurant website makes great play of the care they take to ensure the authentic mix of flavours and this dish confirmed their success. Even the brioche bun shone by being light but delicious.
My selection was the Howling’ Wolf Chilli. Here again a spectrum of flavours were presented, resulting in one of the best chillies I have ever enjoyed. In particular I loved the addition of the smoked brisket which gave a lovely barbecue flavour to the chilli. The selection of chillies used in the dish didn’t make me howl, but it was fiery enough to make it zing on the tongue.
Along with the bed of rice, the chilli comes with corn bread. Now, I will admit to not being a great fan of corn bread and I realise now that the reason is it is usually pretty dry. Maggie’s Grill produced a corn bread that retained some moisture but with a nicely fired crust. I am a convert!
With our eating out increasingly being dominated by national chains, it is a particular pleasure to be able to say such nice things about a restaurant which is clearly locally owned and operated. Especially one where the staff clearly take such pleasure in providing a real dining experience.