Shanna "Urban Girl" Jones
I have been to Max's Wine Dive on a few occasions before but never for brunch. When you think about brunch, saying a place is "the scene" doesn't seem all that fitting, but it really is! This place is jumping on a Sunday morning and with the music jamming old blues classics mixed with a bit of rock and roll, I would say this IS the place to be on a Sunday morning! Not only is it jumping, but it is packed. Wall to wall packed from the seats at the bar to tables made for groups of 6 or more. Luckily, I made reservations, as I always do, and I was seated immediately.
No wall is left free here and is either adorned with a picture, painting, sign (like "Wine is Poetry" or "No Working During Drinking Hours"), wine itself, or "chalk-looking" boards with the current specials. How can you not enjoy yourself in a place like this?
This was a solo Sunday brunch which I typically wouldn't do, but my girlfriend got caught in traffic due to I-45 construction! I am sure that doesn't come as a complete surprise to any of you. So, it was on to my mimosa...which was not quite what I expected. Traditionally, I would go for the mimosa made with orange juice, but this time I ordered the MAX's mimosa made with Texas grapefruit juice. It was a bit bland and not as refreshing or cold as I would have liked. However, it was a "head tingler"...lol! But since the food was so amazingly good it would easily over shadow the mimosa. Just order the regular if you are not up for the risk :-)
For breakfast I ordered the "Eggs any Style". This dish came with jalapeño cheese grits, applewood smoked bacon, eggs anyway you like them (I prefer my eggs scrambled with cheese), Texas toast and a side of salsa (for the eggs of course). Let's start with the eggs...since its kinda hard to mess up eggs, we can move on quickly! Side note: if you are screwing up eggs, you need to be ashamed of yourself! The bacon was cooked perfectly - a semi soft center and crispy edges! The Texas toast was the first I had ever tasted of its kind. With a very soft center and flaky edges, it reminded me of a mix between regular toast and homemade biscuits; yet airy. Topped with a bit of jelly, it was very good. The winner for today was the grits! The jalapeño shined through and the cheese was blended to perfection...oh what joy!
The service was good and everyone was attentive. Even when my waitress was a little slow, another waitress came over to take my order and to check on me. I love great customer service. It really rounds out a great experience. I'm not sure if the waitress felt sorry for me because I was sitting alone, but she actually came and sat down to talk with me for about 5 minutes. How sweet was that! Apparently, Max's has being doing well especially with over 170 reservations made for a Saturday night and a three hour wait if you didn't have one!
For those venturing out for dinner, Max's has a great menu. The wine list is extensive and they are known for their Southern Fried Chicken and the famous "MAX 'n Cheese". I highly recommend Max's Wine Dive and getting to write about my experience while actually eating it, was a plus! My only regret is not ordering the Crème Brulee Battered French Toast or The “RVP” (the Red Velvet Pancakes) with the dollop of lemon cream cheese frosting! We will be back next Sunday and this time I'm bringing the crew so I can try more stuff!
Felice "Swanky Girl" Sloan
I have been trying to get to Maxs' brunch for a minute, so when Urban Girl went without me last week I almost stroked out. Then she proceeded to tell me how delicious everything tasted; now that was just wrong on so many levels. So I knew my curiosity and my heart could not take it any longer, and that I needed to make my way to Max’s this weekend!
The hubby and I got there sometime after 1pm; so there was no need for reservations because the morning crowd was now an afterthought. We were seated and had Mimosa’s in hand within about 15 minutes. This place always has the best vibe; it is very chill and laid back. But you somehow always know that it is the place to be and be seen without being pretentious! Urban Girl mentions how cool the walls are being adorned with signs and paintings. Well that continues on with the attire the waiters and waitresses wear! They sport black T-shirts that have cool quotes about the restaurant, charities, or whatever else they feel they want to say. Our waitress was sporting one that said, “Fried Chicken and Champagne?...Why the Hell Not.?!” I live and love this type of randomness.
It took us forever to decide what we wanted to order, because we wanted at least five items on the menu. So, I decided to ask our waitress about our top choices, and watch her expressions to rank them. This is a strategy that I use often to gather the real story about a dish without putting my server on the spot if they are trying to walk the company line (in the restaurant industry that would be, them saying “Oh that is hard to answer because all our dishes are so good”). We finally picked:
• Chicken Fried Ribeye & Eggs - Chicken-fried Harris Ranch rib-eye with truffle gravy, scrambled eggs, and jalapeño cheddar grits:
My husband being the chicken fried steak connoisseur says it was the best he ever had. Since I needed to report back to you all I had to taste it for myself ,that is my story and I am sticking to it. The gravy was “LIKE BUTTA BABY”, with it's smooth silky texture; and the taste was so good it brought a tear to my eye! When it was placed on the table, the first thing I noticed was that the chicken fried steak was not swimming in gravy; the ratio of gravy to meat was as it should be and a clear sign that the steak was going to be juicy and tender. Many restaurants use the gravy to over compensate for dry and overcooked meat. Well Max’s has it going on and they make a mean chicken fried steak that can stand alone; but with a gravy that damn good we don’t want it too!
• Jake Cakes and Wings - Seasoned & fried southern chicken wings atop three southern-style cornbread griddle cakes with maple syrup:
This dish could feed three people and I am not kidding. It had four large wings and three griddle cakes. The wings were so good, which was no surprise because they have some of the best fried chicken outside my aunts kitchen and Frenchy’s chicken (the original location off Scott) in the city. The griddle cakes were a culinary delight; they had jalapeño, corn, and red peppers finely chopped into the batter. So the sweetness of the maple syrup on top of that southern-style cornbread cake made the dish a hit. Yes, Urban Girl on the next trip to Max’s we will have to bring the girls because there are still about four more dishes that I want to try!