Max’s Wine Dive opened a few weeks ago in the space vacated by BORDER’S bookstore long ago. As a casually interested passerby type of person, I noticed that fried chicken and champagne were kind of a big deal to them. And when I finally walked inside last night at the media dinner party they hosted, I was certain of it. But, what surprised me about Max’s is the breadth of the menu outside of fried chicken and bubbly, plus the wine program itself.
Before we get into the inevitable food porn portion of the post, and I lose your attention completely to the likes of “MAX ‘n cheese,” pumpkin risotto and foie gras, I will tell you three main points I took away from dinner at Max’s (besides my special media to-go box with champagne, fried chicken and menu information).
1) They do not serve liquor at Max’s. I’m thinking there’s some weird bible belt state liquor law that allows them to sell wine as a retail store as long as they don’t serve liquor. I don’t have to understand it. All I need to know is that I’m getting a good deal (the best in town according to the team at Max’s) on my grenache.
2) Max’s serves brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No, that’s not a typo. MAX’S SERVES BRUNCH ON FRIDAYS. I can get my brunch on, on a workday. Danger. No really, DANGER. This is a brunch menu that includes red velvet pancakes and creme brûlée French toast. Because Max does not fuck around.
3) I’ll need to do more “research” (see creme brûlée French toast Friday brunch comment above), just to be sure, but I’m thinking that Max’s is a place you can take ANYONE. Which is not common to find in a restaurant. They have something for everyone, but not in a Cheesecake Factory way. The prices are reasonable ($14-27 per entree), and they offer shared plates so everyone can try some of everything.
Okay, okay, time for the food. Grab a napkin and get ready to drool a little.
A selection of apps: sliders, grilled cheese with tomato soup and MAX ‘n Cheese
MAX ‘n cheese, with unfortunately too much (Read: ANY) truffle for my taste. After glancing through the whole (big) menu, I noticed Max likes to truffle a lot. Note to self: ask to de-truffle before ordering.
House-made potato chips with creme fraiche, chives and caviar. Coming soon to the menu, we were told. These were like the most expensive sour cream and onion Ruffles you can imagine.
A sweet pepper stuffed with pork. Beautiful, but I didn’t try it. One fellow diner crowned it as his favorite app.
Pan Borracho, or “drunk bread” was like a savory bread pudding studded with proscuitto and topped with cheese and thyme. Served (to us) in a teeny oval ramekin.
Nacho Mama’s Oysters, as they are called. Fried and served with garlic aioli on a wonton chip with habanero salsa and cilantro.
Bison slider with the most adorable little bun I’ve ever seen. Right??
After all those delicious bites, we saw there were menus on the table. No big deal, only like NINE courses. Luckily, most of them were made into tastes for our dinner, rather than full-size dishes. So if they look a little small, remember that.
This was a beautiful plate. Smoked trout, three kinds of beets, yellow beet puree, creme fraiche, beech mushrooms, micro greens and trout roe? That’s a colorful business. You had me at smoked trout, Max.
Chicken fried Brussels sprouts taste good enough to convert any sprout hater.
Texas quail was stuffed with golden raisin marmalade.
Foie Gras Torchon Sliders served on brioche with grape ketchup were decadent, of course.
Probably my favorite thing I tried: pumpkin risotto. Full-size, this baby comes with a fried egg on top. We got a lovely little yolk drizzle. Sexy time.
Collard greens at Max’s are similar to the ones I really like over at Chicken Scratch. But these are vegetarian.
Mashed potatoes were served family style. Luckily they brought out enough that we didn’t have to fight, family style.
I couldn’t even do justice to the size of this mountain of gluttonous goodness. Fried chicken and Texas toast piled atop a smear of mashed potatoes.
Pretty much a perfect plate: tasty collards, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and Texas toast.
Interestingly, Max’s seems incredibly proactive about picky eaters. They make sure to have plenty of vegetarian, gluten free and picky-proof options on the menu, so that shared plates can truly be shared. The greens and potatoes above are both vegetarian.
This dish was chock full of things I don’t eat. Bacon and scallops. But I tasted the pears and apples!
Sweetbreads pot pie — a bit salty, but certainly an innovative twist on a comfort food favorite.
And finally, a shot of the guys responsible for the food, wine and success of Max’s. Cheers!
Max’s Wine Dive | 3600 McKinney Ave. | maxswinedive.com/dallas
Disclaimer: Just to be clear, I was invited to Max’s for this media dinner by Max’s PR agency. I did not pay for dinner, and even valet was comped. That being said, I was impressed by Max’s and I’ll be back on my own dime.