Remember back when it was cool to collect CD’s? Now that we have digital downloads, CD’s, tape casettes, and records maybe a thing of the past, but you can always find your old favorite album somewhere.
With food, it’s not so easy. Most restaurants these days change menus quarterly or seasonally, getting rid of customer favorites and replacing them with new creations just to keep the menu evolving.
Max’s Wine Dive is no different. Every quarter, their Chef’s Selections changes, and just when you think you’ve fallen in love with a dish, it disappears.
This winter season, however, Max’s fans can rejoice.
To celebrate their six-year anniversary, Max’s winter menu is not a collection of new dishes, but of old favorites. It’s Max’s Greatest Hits come back to life, and the menu reads like a love poem to comfort food lovers the world over.
Let’s start with the Fried Chicken Liver & White Burgundy French Toast, crispy chunks of rich chicken livers over a thick piece of a what’s in essence a custard toast with garlic-infused maple syrup. Sweet and salty, crispy yet soft, the play the flavors and textures makes me just want to go “Gahhhhh! So good!” (That was, in fact, my exact reaction).
If foie gras is your pleasure, the Meatballs & Foie Gras is a must order. Yes, you read that right. These would be Black Hill Ranch pork meatballs with foie gras mixed in, with the foie gras dripping-infused gravy over a bed of one of the butteriest, smoothest mashed potatoes you’ll ever taste. Served with crispy buttered slices of toast, you can scoop up the mashed potatoes and meatballs to eat like a crostini, or just scoop up some mashed potatoes with the toast like you would hummus, and plop the meatball in your mouth at the end. Either way, subtly deep foie gras essence will do a playful dance on your palate with each bite.
Does lobster make your eyes light up? If so, Max’s Lobster Pot Pie has your name on it. Served in a deep oval dish with a two-inch puff pastry crust, the New England style pot pie is rich and decadent. You will forget that Marie Callendar ever existed and forever hold this pot pie as the standard. One order is plenty to share among two or three friends, who will all be happier for having tasted it.
If you miss mama’s cooking, or want a version that would put her famous recipe meatloaf to shame, go for the Beef Belly Meat Loaf. Served on a bed of mashed potatoes and green beans with a red curry gravy, and topped with perfectly cooked golden egg yolk which oozes gloriously onto the plate when you cut into it, the beef belly gives the meatloaf this richer fattiness, capturing the flavors in a way that regular beef cannot.
There are playful dishes too, like the Pulled Pork Stadium Nachos, which are perfect to share, cheesy and wonderfully delicious. Served with a healthy topping of pulled pork and pico de gallo, it’s like the Hungry Man version of your regular cheese nachos — bigger and better.
On the lighter side, one of my all-time favorites came back as well — the Shrimp Cocktail & Avocado Carpaccio with tasso ham-infused wild honey. Served on a bed of electric-orange colored sauce with streaks of black squid ink, the presentation looks like the food adaptation of modernist, abstract art, and never fails to wow.
An Elote Loco, or corn salad of roasted corn, cotija cheese, Valentina aoili and lime, offers some light contrast to some of the heartier dishes. Served in large glass that can dig your spoon into, it’s like a corn on the cob turned cold Mexican corn casserole, only fresher and easier to eat.
Another Tex-Mex themed favorite is the duck confit taquitos, small corn tortillas topped with pulled duck confit, jicama slaw, avocado craime fraiche and cilantro pesto over hand made mini corn tortillas. A smear of spicy sriracha comes on the side, allowing you to turn up the heat if that’s your pleasure.
And who can forget the MWD Reuben? A generous portion of house-made pastrami practically bursts out of the rye waffle bun, which, when combined with the chipotle sauerkraut, melted guyere, and maple aoili make it one of my favorite sandwiches of all time.
They even have these unbelievable Chinese-gourmet-food themed Berkshire Ribs, served in a small pile of glistening, mouthwatering sweet, spicy, and tangy Burgandy-hoisin-sambal glaze that bring to mind supercharged Peking Style Spareribs and General Tso’s chicken flavors all rolled into one.
There is so much more on the Greatest Hits menu, like the Cracklin’ Chicken and Wild Mushroom Risotto, Snapper and Sweet Corn Succotash, Wild Boar Pasta and Saint Arnold’s Brisket Fondue, that it’s almost impossible to choose the standout dish.
But then, that’s the beauty of Max’s — decadent, rich, over-the-top food that’s fun to eat and share, all the while enjoying a glass of wine or bubbly, fantastic music, and conversation with great friends. Max’s Greatest Hits Menu is not just great food, it’s also an unforgettably great time.
For more info: Max’s Wine Dive, 4720 Washington Avenue Houston, TX 77007, Tel: 713-880-8737, www.maxswinedive.com, or follow them on Twitter @WineDiveMax