by Steven Doyle
A visit to Max’s Wine Dive will often net you a chance to embrace the inner oenophile, but they also have their bad boy side which serves up some interesting, if not bawdy, menu items. There is certainly that late night rendezvous with fried chicken and Dom Perignon by the glass that gives Max’s a bit of the bad boy impression. But this makes perfect sense; bubbles are meant to make you smile.
Max’s has no pretention of staying classy as evidenced by their over-the-top brunch menu, and we set out to tackle a few of the more interesting items.
You will be pleased to be informed that the brunch at Max’s is not limited to just Sunday afternoons, but instead served all weekend, this includes Friday’s when they open at 10am and serve on past lunch till 3pm. Sunday’s they get up early to help those suffering from a little Saturday night romping around and open the doors at 9am.
The brunch menu begins with what appears to be seemingly normal brunch fare. That fruit cup does seem a bit out of place when you scan deeper into the menu, only to find Red Velvet Pancakes or the Three Egg Sandwich. The latter is served up with three pan-fried eggs drizzled with truffle oil, applewood-smoked bacon, gruyère, bibb lettuce, tomatoes and black truffle aioli, sandwiched between two slices of sourdough. It’s over the top as evidenced by the insane amount of truffle oil, but three eggs is massive for a normal human being.
For those truly in pain from excessive holiday revelry there is the Hangover Pot Pie. This beautiful presentation has an underbelly that reveals basically the entire contents of the kitchen including potatoes and collard greens. The pastry is steeped up in a creamy béchamel that has a powerfully herbaceous scent, and all is wrapped up neatly in a huge vol-au-vent that is quick possibly larger than your head. All this is topped off with some pretty damned good bacon as garnish. Bacon does make an excellent garnish and is the best part of the dish. After gorging into this odd dish, your hangover will most likely vanish forever.
One of our favorite dishes was served with chicken fried Brussel sprouts and thick slabs of ham that definitely had the la plancha treatment that gives them a bit of smoky char. Topped with a few fried eggs, this was one of the better offerings.
The star of the brunch was the omelet. On the menu was a blue crab version, but we were offered one that we were told would make the menu soon. Trout and arugula make for a fantastic omelet, especially when topped with a musky piquillo pepper sauce. The omelet is served with a generous side of cheesy jalapeno grits that reminded us more of polenta. The jalapeno flavor is friendly and not over-the-top spicy.
For a more traditional brunch option, try the Chicken and Waffles. The chicken here gets the same treatment that you would taste late at night, except these are the wings and they recieve a bit of a powdered sugar treatment. They are big and meaty, as they are tender. The waffle is a bit forgettable, however.
Check out Max’s Wine Dive brunch for a quick cure to the day’s suffering, and don’t forget that a little hair o’ dog is a good thing. This is a wine dive after all.