Maggie's Grill brings taste of American deep south to Aberdeen
From succulent pulled pork to Dr Pepper soaked ribs, Southern fried chicken and glorious gumbo, Maggie's Grill is bringing a taste of Louisiana to Aberdeen.
But it turns out the real inspiration for the city's first authentic American Grill and Cajun soul food joint began much closer to home.
The exciting new addition to Aberdeen's dining scene is the latest venture from the owners of Pranzo, and will be opening just down the road from its sister venue on Holburn Street on Monday, July 21.
With owner Richard Parfitt and head chef Sebastian Lord at the helm, Maggie's Grill promises to bring a huge burst of colour, flavour and soul synonymous with the American deep south to the Granite City.
"The best way to describe our food is Cajun soul food and barbecue," explains Richard, 33.
"There's a soul food revival taking place at the moment in the southern States and it’s trending in London at the moment so we want to be the first to bring it to Aberdeen."
The simple menu will boast "fewer dishes done well" including Brooklyn beer-battered fish and chips, burgers, steak, pulled pork, ribs, jambalaya, gumbo, Howlin' Wolf chilli and an array of daily specials cooked up on the restaurant's monstrous grill or smoker.
"Obviously we have some of the world’s finest on fish our doorstep, so we’ll also be doing a fresh catch of the day with a Cajun twist," adds Richard, who is keen to use quality, locally sourced ingredients in his dishes where possible.
So what does the man bringing American BBQ and soul food to Aberdeen cite as the reason behind its increasing popularity across the UK?
Richard said: "Soul food is very unique to the southern United States, where there’s a big emphasis on Cajun spice, marinating, smoking, barbecuing and curing.
"I think it’s about people looking back to their roots and heritage and appreciating that very traditional way of cooking.
"If you look at soul food's origins it actually comes from the slaves, who took a lesser cut of meat, marinated it to make it succulent before turning it into a beautiful disheS like gumbo or jambalaya."
But the true inspiration for opening Maggie's Grill goes further than hopping on the latest food trend for Richard, who explains the personal story behind the venture:
"Maggie was actually my wife’s granny and it’s in tribute to her. She was from Aberdeen but she lived in a place called Jesuit Bend in Louisiana for 30 years after she met Papa Ray in Aberdeen, who was working in the oil industry.
"She passed away a couple of years ago but when she first came back to Aberdeen she was was quite disgusted at the lack of soul food."
As well as being the restaurant's namesake, we hear Maggie's influence also extends to the menu.
"Along with some recipes Seb has come up with himself, we actually have some of Maggie’s authentic cookbooks from Louisiana," continues Richard.
"These books date back to the start of the 1900s including a cookbook from her local parish church.
"Basically all the local residents have put together their own recipes and stuck them in this cookbook. That’s how authentic the food's going to be."
When pushed for a favourite dish on the menu, Richard cites the Dr Pepper short ribs, adding: "Seb marinates the short ribs in a sort of Dr Pepper gravy and cooks it low and slow for hours."
As for sides, he says it has to be their decadent smoky mac ’n’ cheese made with a special seven cheese sauce.
From its funky, colourful décor to the mouthwatering menu, would the restaurant receive Maggie's stamp of approval?
"Oh man Maggie would be so, so happy if she came in here now," said Richard. "She would be so chuffed."
Having already trialled their Howlin' Wolf chilli to the people of Aberdeen earlier this week, the empty bowls suggest the 42-seat restaurant will be packed come opening night.
"As long as people are willing to give new cuisine a try I think they’re going to love it," says Richard.
"I think it’s authentic, honest food that isn't pretentious. We want the meat and veg to speak for itself, obviously with a little bit of seasoning and some love and soul."
Maggie's Grill opens on 242 Holburn Street on Monday, July 21. If you'd like £50 to spend in the restaurant, give it a Like on Facebook.
This article was originally published on STV Aberdeen 14 July 2014.