Maxie’s Southern Hospitality

The sign says, “Get some south in your mouth.” It’s a very good directive. Maxie’s broad menu of southern comfort foods and warm hospitality can make a person yearn for lower latitudes where everything moves a little slower and summer lasts a little longer, where you have a little more time to enjoy it all. WMSE Station Manager, Tom Crawford, and I did, indeed, enjoy it all at Maxie’s and took all the time we needed to properly savor the experience.

Deep fried pickles, y'all!

Deep fried pickles, y’all!

I’ve lived a life devoid of deep fried pickles and now, for the second time in a month, I was digging into a pile of them with Tom. The man loves his deep fried pickles, and when the waitress was about to place them in front of me, Tom redirected her to his end before the plate could hit the table. Juicy spears of lightly battered goodness were being dunked into creole sauce before you could say “fiddle-dee-dee.”  The space on my end of the table was filled by a plate of Redneck Rellenos; Anaheim peppers stuffed with pulled pork, goat cheese and grits, batter-fried and served with sour cream and salsa. They were kicky and brilliant and I was happy to have them on my side.

redneck rellenos

redneck rellenos

Tom ordered up beef ribs, hickory smoked with Kansas City style sauce, merrily joined by white cheddar mac-n-cheese and creamy fennel slaw. Tom licked his fingers and giggled over the ribs; smoky, tangy and with great bark. I snuck forkful after forkful of the mac-n-cheese, and he graciously encouraged it. The slaw rounded out the trio adding a cooling crunch to the meal.

"Goodie, goodie!" Ribs and mac-n-cheese

“Goodie, goodie!” Ribs and mac-n-cheese

I debated what to order for my entrée, but when I mentioned the frogmore stew, our waitress’s enthusiasm for the dish made the call. “I’ve been here since they opened six and a half years ago,” Tracey, our waitress, said. “This is my absolute favorite thing on the menu.” One bite and it was easy to see why. Shrimp, mussels, fish, house-smoked chicken sausage, onion and fresh corn swam in seasoned broth like happy kids in a pond. The mix of seafood, spice, smoke and sweetness common in many southern dishes is my favorite thing about southern food. Maxie’s has the balance dialed in, and each ingredient shines in its own right. My cup runneth over with thanks for the grilled bread to sop up the broth.

frogmore stew. soppin' up the goodness

frogmore stew. soppin’ up the goodness

Tracey convinced us to find room for dessert, and we were awfully glad we did. It was hard to choose from the varied offerings, but we settled on blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding with house-made vanilla bean ice cream, lemon crème anglais and the cutest cookie in the shape of Maxie’s signature fish. Refreshing and comforting at the same time, I wonder why bread pudding has not caught on up here. We couldn’t finish it all, and the next morning, the thought of it in my fridge made getting up a little easier.

blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding. A sweet, sweet ending.

blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding. A sweet, sweet ending.

Always friendly service, lively atmosphere and food that makes you moan with delight are great reasons to visit Maxie’s. Their support of public radio in Milwaukee is another one. “Dan Sidner (co-owner) openly, honestly and unselfishly supports all three radio stations,” Tom said. You can’t miss the signs for the darlings-of-the-low-end-of-the-dial at the front door. Paired with the smiling faces that greet you, you know you’re in a good place.

Tom’s musical pairing:  James Booker  – “Junco Partner” Tom says: “The meal was so good it felt illegal. I felt like we were committing a crime. Food can’t really taste this good. Like we were on the lamb and this might be the last meal  as our hustle gassed out and the cops were outside.  Down the road my junco partner!”

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

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