Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh So Tasty: Max's Wine Dive

Deviled Egg, Chicken Gumbo, Mushroom Toast at Max's Wine Dive

Max's Wine Dive is a "gourmet comfort food" spot that now serves up cocktails, thanks to an expanded liquor license. I was invited over last night to experience their enticing new cocktail program and meet the new chef at their helm - Chef Sean Hill - who plans to modify the restaurant’s menu to focus on Southern comfort food favorites. The evening started out with promise with a delectable array of appetizers. My favorites were the Deviled Egg with horseradish and candied bacon, Crab Hushpuppy with a Remoulade sauce and a hot and hearty Chicken Gumbo. For those seeking to eat a gluten free diet, there was a Mushroom Toast app that was pretty tasty. The main courses went a little south for me. A platter of Maple-glazed pork belly was served with a Bourbon-Chipotle sweet potato puree. The pork belly was literally big, square portions of fat. If there was meat in there no one could find it. Who the hell wants to eat a big piece of fat? Disgusting. And the puree was so sweet I could barley stomach it. That dish was a huge fail. Next up was a Vegetable Jambalaya. Chef Hill's daughter is a vegetarian so he has several meat-free options as a tribute to her on the menu. I liked the concept of the dish, but alas, it too was a total disaster. It tasted like a bunch of rice doused in Tabasco sauce with pieces of tofu scattered throughout. Blech.

Vegetable Jambalaya, Catfish Ponchatrain at Max's Wine Dive

Just when I was starting to despair that the night was a bust, redemption came in the form of a steaming platter of Catfish Ponchatrain. Did he mean to spell that Ponchatrain? I always thought it was Pontchartrain... The fish was firm and flaky with a wonderful crawfish and mushroom cream sauce served over rice. The next entree was even better, Crackling Chicken with a Wild Mushroom Risotto. I am a huge risotto fan and this dish did not disappoint. The "crackling" process comes from pressing the chicken when its cooked so that the fat is rendered from the skin and it crisps. The meat was succulent and delicious. So, two misses and two hits on the entrees. I wish they had ended the night with something sweet, but alas, there was no dessert option so I came home and ate a little Butterfinger candy bar left over from Halloween. Overall, a good night. If you love Southern comfort food, then give Max's Wine Dive a try. Like it says on the door... "Why the hell not?!" Everything I sampled will hit tables in about 2 weeks, so mark your calendar and let me know what you think!

Max’s Wine Dive is located at 3600 McKinney Avenue (corner of Lemmon and McKinney) across from West Village. Lots of free parking around the corner, and a valet is available. http://www.maxswinedive.com