Sunday, January 8, 2012

Maxie's Southern Comfort

This place has been on my list since I worked a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis at the Hilton two years ago and got just a small sample of their food. Of all the restaurants that were represented at the event, which was every big name in Milwaukee 2 years ago, Maxie's Southern Comfort stuck out as my favorite. It just was down-home, warm in the tummy, delicious food.

So when my friend Kathy asked me to make a dinner date for us in the new year, I instantly thought of Maxie's. I had a CityTin to use as well so it was a win-win. Kathy agreed to meet me there at 6:30 on a Wednesday night. She got there a bit before me and started by sitting on the small bench by the hostess stand. After she saw 3 tables come in and immediately get seated and then 3 groups asked to go on a list, she quickly got us on the list. She was told it was a 20 minute wait. They don't take reservations but I saw something about 30 minute call ahead if its busy as there isn't much space for people to wait.

I ended up parking down the street as I completely missed the large parking lot across the street from the restaurant but didn't mind the walk as we have had a mild winter so far. When I walked in, I immediately thought "warm and comfy" with the red wall color and dark tables and not to mention the wonderful smells wafting through the dining room. I saw Kathy sitting at the bar and was able to get a spot next to her. We were greeted by an extremely knowledgeable bartender and she walked us through a few of the beers they had available. Kathy chose Anchor Steam and I went with something dark from Abita, although the name escapes me. We were able to catch up a bit while enjoying our beers in frosted glasses (always a treat) and just a few minutes later we were taken to our table.

We were sat at a small table by a window right in the front of the restaurant. The window was a little drafty but after a little bit, I forgot about it and just focused on the menu and conversation. The restaurant is small but I didn't feel crowded by the tables next to us at all. It was a little louder in there but not that you had to talk super loud to have a conversation. And I heard and saw people going upstairs but I didn't ask what was up there at all. Maybe a large banquet room? Another bar? I'll have to inquire more.

Ok - onto the food. Our server came over, greeted us with a smile (always a nice touch) and walked us through the regular menu and specials menu. My friend Kathy had been told we had to try the hush puppies. Apparently we came on the right night as they don't have hush puppies as a regular item anymore and it just so happened to be a special. We looked through the menu a bit more while our server went to get us some cornbread.

By the time the server returned, we had decided - hush puppies for a appetizer, pecan crusted rainbow trout for me and Kathy went with the crab cake platter. He told us he would get the order in and it shouldn't be too long for the appetizer. We started in on the cornbread and my only complaint is that the cornbread was cold and I would have expected it to be room temperature or warm even. Cold was a little bit of a shock to me.

Then the hush puppies came. You could see the different ingredients in them and I like that you know right away they are made there. They were served with a sweet jelly sauce that went perfectly with the savory taste of the hush puppies. I should have saved the sauce to have with my fish because it was just decadent. I have only had hush puppies once before so I don't have much to compare to but Maxie's blew away the others that I have had.

The entrees came and I was very impressed and just took in the aromas coming off the food. It smelt absolutely amazing and I couldn't wait to dig in. My pecan crusted trout was two pieces heavily coated in chopped pecans. It was sitting atop a sweet potato hash with okra and other root vegetables that were sauteed to perfection. The trout was very moist and the pecans were delicious. On the side was an oil and vinegar arugula salad. Everything was so flavorful and it was my first time having okra. I now know how to pair it with other things and having it be a little bit firmer of a vegetable, it complimented the sweet potato well.

Kathy was served two huge crab cakes that were a dark brown color, not something I'm used to seeing but that didn't mean bad by any means. In the middle was their famous "rwb" slaw, creole rice with a ton of tomatoes and sweet potato fries. As soon as she forked into the crab cake, I could see the lumps of crab from across the table and began to salivate. I quickly grabbed a bit and was taken back by just how flavorful it was. I might go to say, this is the best crab cake I have ever had and I have had quite a few.

I think we both made excellent choices and ate as much as we could. I got through 1.5 pieces of fish and Kathy got through a lot of her crab cakes but both of us had a lot of our sides left. They are definitely plentiful with the portions. But I'm not someone that takes home fish or any seafood to rewarm unless its deep fried and even then I'm questionable on it, so I didn't take home the leftovers.

I would highly, highly recommend this place if you are looking for some down home southern style cooking. I can't wait to return and I will definitely tell my other friends and those with CityTins that this is a must-visit for 2012. I think you will enjoy it as much or more than I did. I do believe they have outdoor seating in the summer, so that excites me with our wonderful Wisconsin summertime weather.

They also have nightly specials to take advantage of. We were there on Vino Wednesday with $10 off bottles of wine, but since we were already having beer, we just stuck with that. But some of the specials like the Maxie's Mojito Mondays and the Rac 'n Mac Thursdays are forcing me to return :)

Until my next post, Happy Eating!

1 comment:

  1. Great review. The trout and the crabcakes are solid choices. Their shrimp and grits is stellar and if you are into oysters, Maxies is one of the best spots in Milwaukee to get them. I've probably been there a dozen or so times and I've probably tried everything on their main menu (as well as a ton of specials) and the trout is my favorite.

    The beer you had was probably an Abita Turbodog, which they always have on tap. The upstairs is a whole other dining room. Both rooms fill up pretty quick. Upstairs isn't as loud as downstairs and there is more space between tables.

    My only complaint about them is that the serve Sazeracs in a martini glass. I hate drinks in martini glasses.