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

Radio Chow Time at SPiN Milwaukee

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Tom squared, Slammers. Tom squared. I hit SPiN Milwaukee with WMSE station manager Tom Crawford one night, and McBob’s with DJ Tom Wanderer the next. TC and I saddled up to the bar at the table-tennis social club and tucked into some good stuff. We started out with the Taste of Wisconsin appetizer, comprised of Wisconsin cheddar-cheese curds, beef sticks, pretzel bites, and stone-ground mustard. You’ll notice in the pic above that one of the beef sticks has a bite taken out of it, and the pretzels look a bit scant, and there might be a pepperoncini missing. That’s cuz this platter’s so tasty that we dug in before I remembered to take pictures. This appetizer embodies traditional Wisconsin standbys in a way that can only be matched by SPiN’s house tap brewed by Sprecher, which goes so well with the pretzels and cheese that I felt like I was home in Bavaria or maybe on a mountaintop in Switzerland.

Next we continued our tradition of divvying up delicious sandwiches, and we each tucked into half a BLT and half a turkey sandwich. Jet over to SPiN with some work chums for a corporate event, or with just some regular friends for a game of ping pong, and chomp down on this BLT. It’ll strike a chord with your taste buds because the bacon ain’t just breakfast-table bacon–it’s deep, rich, crispy pancetta, and the mayo ain’t just bologna-sandwich mayo–it’s pesto aioli, rife with the heaven of garlic and the flavor and fragrance of fresh basil. The arugula gives the BLT bite and snap, and the toasted Tuscan bread . . . my God, why did I forget to ask them where they get that magnificent bread? Oh yeah–it was because I was so overwhelmed with the deliciousness of the turkey sandwich, which they’ll be featuring at the Slam. What could be better for an early-fall event than a sandwich that recalls one of the savoriest spreads of the year. The roasted turkey marries like rock and roll with the cranberry-orange chutney, and the cats in the kitchen at SPiN top it off with fresh baby spinach and creamy, pungent brie.

This is a sandwich you’re gonna wanna chow down on, so if you’re a lucky Food Slam ticket holder, you gots it goin’ on. But I admire anyone who doesn’t have their tickets yet. You’re living on the edge. You’re a thrill seeker. An adrenaline junkie. You’re gonna get your kicks, all right, as you hold back and back and back and feel the anticipation and wait for the rush. Then right at the last second you’ll shoot for the last pair of tickets as your palms sweat and your heart pounds and you can’t find your breath. But don’t drop the ball–you don’t wanna suffer Food Slam withdrawal. Be sure to score your tix and your fix.

And please stay tuned to this here blog for tomorrow’s news of The Tom Wanderer Dining Experience.

–Erin Harris

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