Heat lamps! We spent this past summer happily eating outdoors at restaurants, but then when late September hit, we started thinking, “Uh-oh, what do we do when the weather turns cold?” Some restaurants had the foresight to anticipate a winter under this pandemic and ordered outdoor heat lamps, because no meal tastes good when you’re freezing your ass off. I sat underneath some of those heat lamps while I was dining at Maggie’s R&R, which opened this past fall on West Magnolia Avenue, from which it takes its name. As long as the wind wasn’t blowing, or I was sitting at outdoor tables against the building protected by the wind, it was downright comfortable. The food could be described as comfortable, too, if lacking somewhat in distinction.
The establishment has a quite large outdoor patio space with gravel underfoot for most of the seats, and it’s a perfect space to have your dog sit with you while you confab with members of your party. It’s also great for watching the big game, as large-screen TVs play sports most of the time. (One exception was the recent night of Georgia runoff elections that determined the U.S. Senate, when the screens featured a running tab of the vote count.) If you’re wondering how the space performs in inclement weather, I went there during a rainy night and found the umbrellas over the bench seats closed up and the diners forced inside (or to the outside tables that were behind a transparent vinyl shower curtain-like drape), so be advised. I think this spot would be best in warmer weather, when one has the leisure to cool off with a beer and watch the pedestrians walk by on the busy thoroughfare.
Ah, if only the entrees were up to scratch. It’s not that any of them were bad. Rather, they were consistently mediocre. The fish and chips were decent but certainly not anything that would make a Londoner want to fly over here to try. The Southern chicken BLT put a twist on the grilled chicken sandwich — in this case, the sandwich actually needs the bacon to give back some fat to the otherwise lean breast meat — but it still amounted to no more than an acceptable lunch. The pecan chicken aimed to do the same thing by crusting the cutlet in the crushed nuts. I appreciated the crunch and earthy flavor that they brought to the meat, yet I found myself missing the juiciness of a good chicken-fried chicken. As for the Triple B burger, the curlicues of barbecued brisket and the crunchiness of French-fried onions gave some interesting texture to the traditional bacon cheeseburger without elevating the sandwich to something that made the restaurant worth recommending.
The blah main dishes were upstaged time and again by the sides that came with them. The French fries were done up to a pleasing consistency between crunchy and crispy, and the green beans came out crisp-tender and shining underneath a patina of butter. Best of all were the aligote-like mashed potatoes, infused with enough cheese to give them the stretchiness of melted mozzarella. The seasonal cocktails for the winter included three versions of spiked hot chocolate, and the one I ordered had the decadent boozy twang of a hot cocoa made with eggnog. (The alcohol actually came from RumChata and Skrewball whiskey.) These sides pointed up what was lacking in the entrees. Heaven knows not every restaurant needs to serve up exotic ingredients cooked with newfangled gadgets and techniques, but there’s a way to do comfort food and still have it be different from everyone else’s. If the kitchen at Maggie’s exercised as much creativity with the mains as elsewhere, this would be more than just a nice place for a beer.
1264 W Magnolia Av, FW. 682-255-5442. 11am-9pm Sun, 11am-10pm Mon-Wed, 11am-11pm Thu, 11am-midnight Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Southern chicken BLT $11.99
Triple B burger $12.99
Beer-battered fish and chips $15.99
Pecan chicken $16.49
Peanut butter hot cocoa $8.99