When I hear the word "dive," I think of places like the Poodle Dog Lounge, or Deep Eddy Cabaret, or maybe Ginny's Little Longhorn. So the first time I went to Max's Wine Dive, I was not at all expecting it to be so...fancy.
But fancy it is, at least as far as dives go. Once you get past the misnomer, though, there is much to love. I mean, how can you NOT love a place that has the motto, "Fried chicken and champagne...why the hell not?" Why the hell not, indeed. I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Swankiest little dive bar in Texas
The first time I visited was for a Yelp event. All the food I tried was passed hors d'oeuvres, most of it fried. I tried some fried alligator, fried chicken wings, some highly messy baby back ribs, and the Nacho Mama’s Oysters, which were crispy fried oysters served atop fried wonton skins with aioli, habanero salsa and cilantro. The Nacho Mama's Oysters were so good that they made me forget my snobbery toward fried wonton skins; a beautifully balanced blend of textures and flavors that somehow managed to be crunchy, yet melted in your mouth. Unfortunately, every time they came around, I was so busy cramming them down my gullet that I didn't get a photo of them.
I offer you this plate of fried chicken wings, instead.
Not long later, I went back for brunch, which cemented my fandom of Max's non-divey ways. We started our meal with a round of mimosas made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. I attempted to take a beautifully composed photo of a vibrant orange mimosa with one of Max's elegant menus behind it, but unfortunately, the menu decided to take a swan dive into the mimosa and no photos were achieved. So you'll just have to imagine how lovely it looked.
For my entreé, I ordered the Eggs Max - Texas toast covered with prosciutto, sautéed petit greens, two farm fresh poached eggs, and black truffle cream. Truffle cream, you say? Yes, please.
This should probably be renamed Eggs To The Max.
Everyone agreed that the Eggs Max was a HUGE winner. The Texas toast was made with a super-thick piece of ever-so-slightly sweet brioche, which made an excellent sponge to catch the warm yolk and the gravy-like truffle cream as it melted down over the prosciutto and greens. I nearly swooned with every bite.
Of course, I had to taste my friend's Nutella Banana French Toast ($10) - thick-cut brioche stuffed with nutella and banana, then battered and fried. In case the French toast alone isn't sufficiently artery-clogging, Max's serves it with a side of bacon. Genius.
Workin' too hard can give you a heart attack-ack-ack...and so can this dish.
Perhaps it was my hypoglycemia talking, but while I thought the french toast was nice, it didn't quite live up to my high expectations. The brioche was so thick that it didn't sufficiently absorb the milk/egg dredge and seemed a little on the dry side. Good, but not good enough to make me stray from that luscious Eggs Max on the next go-round.
I understand that the bread here is made at Sandra Bullock's latest retail venture, Walton's Fancy & Staple. There's really no love lost between me and her other restaurant, Bess Bistro, but I'll try anything once, and this introduction via Max's may be just the prodding I needed.
In the meantime, get thee over to Max's. Why the hell not?
Max's Wine Dive
207 San Jacinto Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701