MaGhee’s Grill on the Hill
3607 Old Shell Road
Mobile, AL 36608
I’m finally catching my breath. This holiday season was busier than I’ve ever remembered. I felt like every second of the past two months were planned for me, no choices, only an itinerary to follow from sunup to sundown and a little beyond. It was time for me to carve out some space for my friends, to stop and smell the gumbo, so to speak.
I forced a lunch meeting into a Thursday in between appointments and found myself at a table with an old friend, Yves Ettiman, at the well-seasoned MaGhee’s Grill on the Hill. By the time my unsweet tea was on the table, we were joined by our buddy Walker “Midtown” Ranger. Finally, I felt like the band was getting back together.
The three of us never found (nor sought) a lull in the conversation at our window seat next to the bar in the smallish, open dining room. There was too much catching up for silence to rear its ugly head. We only had an hour or so in which to solve the world’s problems. That’s easier said than done with each of us coming from diverse lines of work. Collectively, we were a ragtag group of small business owners talking about newspapers, guitars, policy changes, financials, property and, of course, food.
Yves recognized Miss Paula, a veteran of the Mobile food scene, coming out of the kitchen. With his love of cuisine and gushing backstory for the lady, I knew the chances of being disappointed in our meal were low. With that in mind, Mr. Walker and I opened the event with a cup each of her corn and crab bisque ($4.95). It wasn’t the gumbo I was hoping for, but it was a good second. A dash of Crystal and a couple of Captain’s Wafers weren’t needed, but they didn’t hurt, and the rich soup started us on the right foot.
Yves went a different route with the special chicken and dumplings ($4.95) as a soup course. He reported they were quite tasty with thinner dumplings and a good broth, easily eaten with a spoon. I was a little jealous, but in this climate, we didn’t swap spoonfuls. He’s a bit of a germaphobe. I respect him enough as an experienced gourmand to take his word for it.
Next up was the dangerous artichoke dip ($7.95). I say dangerous because it’s a lot. Served with tortilla chips and three spoons, we took our turns shoveling the yellow dip like a three-man team working the railroad with big spike hammers. As soon as one was up, another was down. I don’t know how we managed to keep the conversation going, but we did. The most impressive part was no one lost a finger.
Walker and Yves both decided on the seared tuna wrap ($12.95). Although the menu says seared, the two of them opted to have their tuna blackened. The cool center of the ahi tuna visible from my view of the cross section had a blanket of lettuce and tomato between the protein and the tortilla. Though Walker was concerned with how mayonnaise-heavy the wasabi mayonnaise would be, he was in the clear as they serve it on the side. It must have passed his mayo test, because he was dunking away with that wrap.
Miss Paula apparently gave them a healthy dose of blackening seasoning, so there is a reported “kick” from the glorified sandwich, and a solid bite from the dressed-up mayo for those who prefer their mayonnaise in volumes. Come on, Walker, join Team Mayonnaise!
Walker’s choice of side was a salad with bleu cheese dressing, which was attractive and not what you’d consider small. Yves went after the pasta salad with a vengeance. Nothing was left on either plate, and no complaints were heard.
Though I was not privy to any tuna, I still felt like I out-ordered my colleagues. You say it isn’t a contest? Oh, it is. My triumphant order was the special of the day, a spicy corned beef sandwich ($9.95). This beauty was on toasted rye bread with lettuce and tomato and a little bit of mayonnaise. I asked myself, “How hot could it be?” Well, it’s not a scorcher, but it was happily spicier than I expected. I loved the simplicity and flavor of this sandwich — nothing too heavy, and enough for me to take the second half home with me.
I also had the same green salad as Walker, but added a small potato salad. What’s corned beef without potatoes, anyway? Smooth, creamy, understated and perfect, it was a great complement to the sandwich. What was left of it was going home, too.
The rest of the lunch menu is rounded out with a burger, a patty melt and a handful of sandwiches, one of which is a grouper that I’d be willing to try. I’ve also never had any chicken here, so maybe I’ll amend that. At dinner, however, it gets a little fancier. Blackened shrimp and tuna apps sound good, and I have tried the pan-seared filet with dill sauce. It would best be described as steak bites in a slightly sweet drizzle. I’d recommend it.
Walker had to duck out a little earlier than us, so Yves and I chatted until the check came. Then we chatted in the parking lot until I was late for my next appointment. Like I said, there was a lot of catching up to do.
I sped away in my grocery grabber, reaching my destination not quite as tardy as I thought I’d be. The only negative of the day was that in my haste I somehow misplaced my sandwich and leftover potato salad, either on the table or somewhere along Old Shell Road. I hope some person (or creature) had the chance to enjoy it as much as I did. Not too deflated, I’d happily trade that for the company and conversation. Gentlemen, it was a pleasure.
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