Maggie May’s is not somewhere I would normally venture. Located in the venue that previously housed a virtual golf course and, later, a naff bar with good cocktails but impossibly loud music, it’s a little off the beaten track and somewhere that’s proving popular with, er, how can I put this politely… the older crowd. It even advertises itself as somewhere to celebrate a 40th, 50th or 60th birthday, so it really doesn’t sound like somewhere I’d venture for my lunch.
And it is only lunch that I’ve had here, midweek too, as Friday and Saturday nights are party time… and the parties start early at Maggie May’s. Music is mostly 60’s, 70’s & 80’s and it’s all dancing, rather than eating, so if you’re after food, keep it midweek (and note that the kitchen is closed on Sunday and Monday).
So, with such a strong focus on the music side of things, can this place stand up as a serious eatery? Well, yes, it’s actually quite a nice place to be in the week. It’s a smart looking bar with comfortable seating AND it’s managed to get itself a decent chef! Lee Vintin, who was previously at Devonshire Arms, has come in, devised a menu and taken charge of the kitchen. The food, in line with the music, is ‘Noshtalgic’ with dishes served in baskets (note – sitting at one of the high tables helps with getting your knife and fork into these things) and menus printed on old LPs.
It might all seem a bit gimmicky but Lee knows his stuff and can cook damn well so the food is absolutely for real. Organic Buffalo burgers are their speciality, but my favourites are the pulled pork sandwich and the chicken & chips. There’s also wraps and pizzas on the menu, but I haven’t ventured that far yet, and now that Lee’s introduced a specials menu of fried chicken and bangers & mash, there’s little chance I’m gonna be ordering pizza!
On an impromptu day off I took Gav here for lunch (I’d been a few times with work and he hadn’t tried it yet). I’d heard about the specials and was hankering after some of their fried chicken so I was pleased to find it available. The barmaid was pushing the bangers & mash (rightly so as we’re talking Moss Valley sausages, who also provide the pork for the pulled pork by the way), but I’ve had their sausages before and wanted to try something new. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like ordering bangers and mash when I’m out; it’s too easy, something that I’d be able to throw together at home, I’d rather go for something a bit more complex.
Now, I do have a bit of a past when it comes to fried chicken. I worked in KFC as a student and developed a love for their chicken pieces and burgers, but I haven’t had it in years (yes, sometimes I do cut off my nose to spite my face with this not eating in chains lark), so I was only ever going to order the fried chicken burger (£6.95) here. It came in a Welbeck Bakery bottom baked bun with mayo, iceberg and cheese (an extra 95p) with sides of a mountain of fries, coleslaw and a small salad.
The chicken was juicy and tasty and although I know that I shouldn’t compare an independent to to fast food chain (really, I shouldn’t), but this did kind of take me back… except it was better. The bun was really tasty and had a good substance, the chicken fillet had been flattened so that it filled the bun nicely and the cheese had melted over the meat. Fries were perfectly seasoned. Side salad was a little over dressed for my liking, but included some of the tastier items such as cherry tomatoes, grated carrot and pepper. Coleslaw was fine, but I barely touched it; I was stuffed.
I’d recommended the pulled pork sandwich (£6.25) to Gav, who was not disappointed! The Cajun fries alone wowed just by smelling amazing and thankfully their taste lived up to the promising aromas. There was more coleslaw and an enormous strip of pork crackling… and that’s before he got to the sandwich. The bottom baked bun was packed full of tasty and tender pork along with some salad leaves and I don’t care that their signature dish is the buffalo burger, this is the star of the menu.
As always I was too full to even look at the dessert menu, which is a huge shame given that there’s knickerbocker glory on there. Maybe next time I’ll stick to a slider and salad so that I can fit one in! And of course there will be a next time; the place is a hit with my colleagues, so much so that I’ve booked our Christmas do here.
I highly recommend a visit; you’ll love the food and the prices (especially if you go on a Tuesday as there’s 25% off all food and drink!).