Monday, 18 December 2017

JUST JULIA TRIES: Mackie's 19.2 (Aberdeen)

Located 19.2 miles from the Westertown home farm where the Mackie family first started making their infamous ice cream 30 years ago lies Mackie's 19.2 - the Scottish ice cream company's first parlour.

Having captured the hearts of the nation with their delicious staple favourites, and some new ones too, it was natural for the ice cream empire to eventually pop-up in the city centre of Aberdeen with their own digs.

A local company, Mackie's has been keen to put its mark firmly on the city and with the new Marischal College development now open to businesses, it was natural for them to find their new home in front of one of Aberdeen's most prestigious buildings, Marischal College.

Meandering down to the other end of town where the ChristmasVillage lies, Calum and myself decided to pay Aberdeen's newest ice cream joint a visit late last Sunday afternoon - because eating ice cream right before dinner is the done thing, right?

It was dark by 4pm, but the parlour was bright which ensured I spotted it from the corner of my eye immediately. It was cosy, with lots of people and plenty of staff on to hand to tend to all.

The ice cream parlour is well-decorated. It's sophisticated, but at the same time, the ripple of multi coloured lighting which changes colour frequently, partnered with the giant neon cow sign in the window screams fun and edgy.

With room for 40 covers, it's spacious, although when we visited, it got busy really quickly - so if you want to grab a seat at one of their booths or the beautiful marble tables, grab one when you can.
As we delved into the menu I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I have a really sweet tooth, and I love desserts so when the menu consists of crepes, waffles, ice cream, cakes and more, I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed. Sticking to my guns, and what Mackie's is most famous for, I decided to go for ice cream.

Calum had already eyed up the sundae's and was on the case of picking his three flavours. Me on the other hand, back to square one. A cone, a tub, a lolly, a sundae or a milkshake? I wanted them all.

With more than 20 new flavours of ice cream to choose from including buttery and jam, raspberry Eton mess and rhubarb and custard, there was something for everyone.
Calum ordered his sundae; one scoop of banana rainbow ice cream, one of salted caramel, and one of cookies and cream topped off with a flake, freshly chopped bananas, chocolate sauce and a large serving of whipped cream. A branded wafer finished the dessert off.

Being greedy (it was Sunday so it's allowed) I also decided to get a sundae - three scoops; one chocolate orange, one white chocolate and coconut, and one toffee popcorn with rainbow sprinkles, tiny meringue pieces, coconut sauce and a lots of whipped cream plus a wafer on top.

The sundaes were huge, and we both 
loved them. I was pleased how well my flavours went together, and was happy with the size of the sundae. At £6.20 you want to make sure you're getting your monies worth - and that we did.

Sadly in the end, I had to admit defeat as it was just too much for me. The flavours I picked were fabulous. The chocolate orange was by far my favourite, but the coconut sauce which lined the glass was lovely and sweet and worked really well with the toffee popcorn and the white chocolate and coconut ice creams I had chosen.

Calum finished his in record timing, so I didn't manage to get a whiff of his, never mind a taste, but by the clean dish, I figured he enjoyed it...It seems I was correct.

Other than the ice creams, we didn't really manage to sample much more than that so I can't comment too much on the other dishes, but from what I could tell my the looks on customers faces, Mackie's has nailed it.
A supporter of local businesses where it can be, Mackie's tries its hardest to use as many local suppliers as it can, which was great to see from a consumers point of view. I loved that they had numerous local business' on show including Bon Accord Drinks, So...Aberdeen and Rora Dairy to start.

The company is also well known for it's chocolate and crisps, so it's no surprise they had plenty of chocolate on sale too, as well as huge slabs which would be perfect as gifts. I spied the smaller, individual handmade chocolates but decided to wait until my next venture to put them to the taste test. I was far too full for that. 

There as a little bit of everything in the parlour, from savoury choices, to tray bakes, to chocolate and ice cream and everything sweet in between.  A lot of time and effort has clearly been spent in finding a layout which not only works for the consumer, but works for the staff too. There's something for all ages, and it definitely seems like a place where all generations will come together. Besides, there's nothing better than seeing a grandparents out with the grandkids sharing an ice cream made by local people.

I for one was very impressed.
Overly satisfied and bellies full, we were really pleased with how our first experience of Mackie's ice cream parlour had panned out.

Not only do they have an array of sweet treats to keep you going until the cows come home, the savoury offering was also much better than I had anticipated and it was fantastic to see so many other local business' I support included in the offering.

A great space which I have no doubt will be a busy one at that. See you again soon...

  For Now...

Just Julia

FUN FACT: For every sundae you purchase you get one stamp on your loyalty card - buy six sundae's and the seventh is on Mackie's!


Monday, 11 December 2017

JUST JULIA TRIES: Maggie's Grill (Aberdeen)

Food is good for the soul, and soul food is unbelievably good. So when on the hunt for something filling, and full of soul, Maggie's Grill is the only place to go.

I've visited Maggie's many a time now. And staying a short 10 minute walk from the eatery really hasn't helped my waistline, but when the food tastes as good as the offering at Maggie's does, it's hard to say no...

Celebrating Calum's return onshore - we try go out for a nice meal when he gets home - we headed along to Maggie's having pre-booked a table. Rocking up, it was steady, however the restaurant quickly filled with bodies whilst we ordered our drinks. Faces firmly in the menu, this was going to be a tough choice

Drinks at the ready - a pint of Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale for Calum and a dark rum and ginger beer for me - we toasted to a night of fine food and catch ups and ordered our meals.

The decor is fun. It's got that deep South feel about it. It's not too fancy - you wouldn't want it to be. It's relaxed, smart and feels really familiar, kind of like home in some strange way. I think it's the chilled, calming vibe the staff and the restaurant portray that makes you kind of want to stay there all night. And although the restaurant is smaller, its always busy in a collected, organised way.

Just as we were getting lost in conversation, our starters arrived. Visiting the deep South (or as close as I've been to the deep South) I opted for Buffalo Chicken Bites (£7.95) and Calum went for the Tex Mex Nachos (£6.95 + £1.95 for the BBQ pulled pork). The idea was to share the dishes...I'll give you a guess as to how well that went down...

The homemade buffalo popcorn chicken bites were smothered in a special house hot sauce. Accompanied by a cooling, creamy blue cheese dip, the pairing was a match made in heaven. The bites were pretty big, not bite-size - which suited me perfectly, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the blue cheese dip. I'm not usually a fan of anything blue cheese, but this dip, I could definitely eat by the tub full. The hot sauce had a lovely warm kick to it, and was one of the best I've had.

Calum's Tex Mex Nachos looked amazing. I was quick enough to grab one from the top which was lathered in salsa and BBQ pulled pork - I hit the jackpot. Calum's face was priceless.

The nachos were drenched in cheese, and boasted sour cream, jalapeneo peppers, toasted corn salsa, homemade salsa, and were topped off with beautifully cooked BBQ pulled pork. It was clear by the clean plates we both enjoyed our dishes a lot. With the nachos, there was also the choice of the Howlin' wolf chilli, but the pulled pork for us was the perfect choice.
The starters were pretty filling, but the wee gap between our starter and main courses was ideal.

I wouldn't normally order the same proteins for starter and main, but when you're in a soul food restaurant that has Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken on the menu, a girls got to do what a girls got to do.

The boneless deep fried chicken breast marinated in buttermilk and cajun spices was super succulent. I decided to go for the option to pick my own sides - house Bulleit Bourbon BBQ sauce, house fries, and onion rings - went a little off menu there with the onion rings as the choices consisted of collard greens, cornbread stuffing, house slaw, corn on the cob, cornbread, hush puppies or house pickles - but the staff were supper accommodating. The chicken, sauce and two sides was well priced (£15.95) and was extremely filling.

Tangy and sweet, the BBQ sauce was awesome with the large piece of chicken. The chips were great and although the onion rings were a tad on the greasy side, they rocked.

The King of sandwiches decided on The Rueben (£14.95). A lover of pastrami meat, the classic sandwich features pastrami aged Aberdeen Angus beef brisket which is cured for a week and then rolled in spices and smoked. The high stacked rye bread sandwich was packed with Swiss cheese and house slaw and Calum's face told me everything - he was loving it.

On the side Calum also opted for deep fried pickles and a hefty portion of chilli cheese fries (an additional £4.45) - because regular fries just ain't going to cut it with this guy.

The meat was tender and there was a huge amount of it in the sandwich too. The coleslaw was crunchy and creamy, and the melted cheese on the chilli cheese fries was divine.

For once, neither of us could finish our meals, which of course sealed the fate for any thought of dessert.
Bagging one more drink for the road, we sat enjoying our time at the busy eatery as we prepared to brave the cold and waddle home.

A must-visit restaurant, Maggie's Grill is an excellent eatery not only for adults, but also for children.  The local eatery is a great pit-stop for all, and kids even get complimentary hush puppies, tortilla chips, ranch dip and fruit juice to enjoy as they wait for their meals to be cooked which is pretty awesome. There's also a really good choice for kids too, ensuring they don't miss out on the outstanding soul food the team at Maggie's create.

I'd also like to say that I think the restaurant is pretty well priced. For being a local place which uses and supports various other local suppliers and producers, I was happy to pay the prices on the menu, especially when the food is as good as it is.

To say I'm looking forward to returning is an understatement because the buttermilk chicken at Maggie's is what I class as finger lickin' good chicken - back up Colonel, there's a new sheriff in town.

  For Now...

Just Julia

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