Mackie’s Bar & Grill – The New Kid On the Block

This month we visited one of Old Town’s newest restaurants, Mackie’s Bar & Grill at 907 King Street. Located in the space that housed Layla’s for the past several years, this is a welcome new addition to the Old Town dining scene. Mackie’s is the dream child of Sang Lee and his wife Susanne Mackie (hence the name). Both Lee and Mackie have been longtime Old Town restaurant patrons and have always thought there was a need for a good “steak house”. Lee says that he wants to concentrate on really good, high quality steaks and everything that making that happen entails.

Mackie’s isn’t “officially” open. They have been taking their time serving the public and testing out the menu so that when they open “officially” on December 20th – which happens to be the anniversary of Lee and Mackie’s first date – he wants to make sure he has things right. If the meals we have had there in the interim are any indication of what is to come – they on the right track.

The dining room is positioned at the rear of the building and is separated by a heavy glass door from the lively bar space that greets you upon arrival. At first we thought this odd, but after entering the restaurant area we understood how the door helped block the noise of the crowded bar. By having the bar area separate it makes for a nice quiet dining experience with background music conducive to carrying on a conversation. The dining room is long and narrow with about 45 seats, mostly two tops and four tops. It makes for a fairly intimate experience. The black dinner napkins and heavy silverware underscore the masculinity of the room. It is elegant and comfortable at the same time. The large wine glasses are perfect for their quality offering of medium priced wines. Although the wine list is not large, it is quite adequate.

There are three distinct menus at Mackie’s…Bar, Lunch, and Dinner. Although there are a few of the dinner items on the Bar and Lunch menus, these menus offer mainly sandwiches and lighter fare. Choices range from soup of the day and their classic lobster bisque to three salad choices for an appetizer. On the bar menu you can find the obligatory fries and wings, sliders, Caprese Bites, a delicious Tuna Tartare (Lee’s recipe), a juicy hamburger and the Bulgogi Hoagie…thin slices of rib eye, Korean marinade, spicy Korean sauce, and house slaw. This sandwich is not only delicious but is huge and complimented with really good house made fries. Lani, who really isn’t a steak sandwich or fries person, ordered this on our second trip to Mackie’s and oohed and aahed over both.

The lunch menu offers a few more sandwiches including a Grilled Chicken, smoked pork BBQ, and a BLT. The entrees on the lunch menu feature the Bone-In Chicken Breast, Filet of Salmon and a 5oz. Hanger Steak. These portions are smaller than their dinner counterparts but less expensive as well.

In addition to the appetizers aforementioned, the dinner menu includes a “colossal” shrimp cocktail and a trio of dips of Kalamata tapenade, spinach & artichoke and crab. Lee tells us that these are being updated as they go along.

The dinner entrees offer a wide range of options and still keeps it simple. The Pappardelle pasta is served primavera or alfredo style with a choice of chicken, shrimp or steak; the Bone-in Chicken Breast is pan seared and served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables; and a Filet of Salmon served with dill vin blanc and fresh vegetables compliment the steaks – 10 oz. butchers cut Hanger, 14 oz. New York Strip, 16 oz. Rib eye and the 8 oz. Filet Mignon.

The chicken breast is one of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten. Juicy and with spices that make your mouth water, this is a great choice for either lunch or dinner. The Hanger Steak comes with a mushroom bordelaise sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. This butcher’s cut steak has a deep red color and a wonderful taste. I couldn’t finish mine that night and it was even better the next day. The 14 oz. New York Strip and the 16 oz. Rib Eye are certainly for the hardy eater. Both of these entrees come with the garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The Filet Mignon is cooked just right on the medium rare side but still has the scoring of the hot grill to add flavor and eye appeal. Lani – the steak critic in the crowd – ordered this on the first visit and gave it 5 stars and more. This was truly a melt in your mouth steak.

The fun and lively part of the restaurant is out front at the bar where, in addition to the bar itself, there are a few high tops and a cozy window seating area that I can see people taking off work early in order to secure the space for Happy Hour! This is a very “hip” bar – you can download the music app that plays on the flat screen and pick your own music from your seat!! I can hardly wait to be in the place when someone my age wants to listen to Jimmy Buffet and someone in their 30’s wants to listen to whatever music it is “they” listen to. All kidding aside, this is a great new twist on the tunes.

Mackie’s has only been open about a month but the bar is attracting a local crowed and the restaurant is already seeing repeat diners. As Sang told me, this is a work in progress. They are pleased with what they have seen so far, but are looking for input from customers as to where they can go from here. Look for subtle changes to the menu as they continue to grow. Join the fun and enjoy a great steak!

Written by: Bob Tagert

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