As much as I love living, breathing, eating, and exploring Dallas, Tampa will always hold a big piece of my heart. Tampa is home to distinctive parts of my life that Dallas could never compete with. The beach, cuban food, childhood friends, the Tampa Bay Lightning, my puppy Dakota, and of course my crazy family. One of the things I miss the most is all the time spent cooking, shopping, discovering new eateries, getting my nails done, staying up all night watching crime stories, stuffing my face, and even butting heads with my momma. Though she may get on my nerves now and then, lecture me about obvious things I already know, and make me just want to scream at points, she truly is my best friend. Momma Bodden may be the only one that can truly rival my food obsessed tendencies. She is always the first one I go to when I want to gush over my latest foodie experience.
This past week the mother-daughter Bodden duo finally reunited to take over the Big D and all its delectable dishes. The first thing we do every time my mom comes in is plan out our week of restaurant to hit and meals to make. It is a week of time together we precisely plan out down to the last bite consumed. The only downside to Momma Bodden’s visits is the number of restaurant blogs that pile up on my to-do list within only a couple days. Some may see this as a blessing and I definitely do, but it is also the definition of some serious #BloggerProbs
Now down to the food…
Those of you that read my blog on the regular know I am a sucker for a good brunch. The thought of fried eggs, sausage gravy, flaky biscuits, and a big fat burger make me go weak at the knees. Of course when I thought of the best way to celebrate the arrival of Momma Bodden the first thing to come to mind was a sunrise brunch paired with a couple mimosas followed by much needed retail therapy. The issue is we wanted to hit brunch on a Friday and most locations only serve it on a weekend. Max’s Wine Dive to the rescue! Food I was dying to devour and a restaurant atmosphere I wanted to personally experience myself, Max’s Wine Dive was the ideal choice to kick off our week together.
Already feeling good about the morning, I open the doors to Max’s like I am walking into Narnia. Floor to ceiling windows looking out to the buildings of downtown, expansive wine bar and walls lined with bottles, eclectic mix of art and high-top tables, a jukebox filling the great room with good vibes, and an open view of the kitchen creating food masterpieces, I feel lost in a wonderland of booze and enticing eats. An upbeat and inviting staff sporting “Fried chicken and champagne?…Why the hell not?!” tshirts give us a quick rundown of the inner workings of the joint and leave us to gawk at the menu.
The moment the waiter drops our menus, I alert him we need an order of Max’s famous cinnamon rolls ASAP. Though not really my thing, Max’s cinnamon rolls are held on a pedestal of culinary greatness by any and every individual that knows of them. Impatiently doing the casual glance over the shoulder to the kitchen in search of my rolls, I actually don’t need a full hour to deliberate the menu this time. The foodie inside me had our order set in stone a couple months ago from hours of ogling articles, reviews, and online menu itself. Game faces on, Momma Bodden and myself challenge the Hangover Pot Pie and Southern Fried Chicken to a battle of the tastebuds and starving stomachs.
Arriving in a sizzling cast-iron skillet, the cinnamon rolls are like nothing I’ve seen before. Usually the dough is thick and sometimes gummy, but these rolls are made of flaky croissant-like pastry that breaks apart at the touch. Dolloped with a glob of royal icing in the center of the three rolls, the heaviness of this dish is left to our discretion. Go big or go home is my motto, so I scrape every cinnamon cluster caked to the skillet and scoop generous helpings of icing on each bite. The best way to describe this heavenly creation is life changing. They are delicate, yet indulging with just the right amount of flake, pastry, cinnamon sugar, and melty icing dripping down the side. If it were socially acceptable I would have licked the skillet clean.
When the hangover pot pie hit the table I felt like it was my birthday. A dish ordered in partial for the experience alone, I did not fully prepare for the massive puff pastry staked with 3 large pieces of crispy bacon that appeared bigger than my head. I couldn’t even see the homefries, collard greens, cream sauce, provolone, and fried eggs housed underneath. Usually when my food appears I devour the contents within seconds, but the pot pie literally had me wide-eyed, jaw dropped, glaring in amazement. I had no idea where to begin. Taking my fork, I mash the ingredient down to an approachable measure and dive in. Cheese strings from my mouth as I let the cream, greens, egg, and potatoes mellow in my mouth. The combination of textures, flavors, and presentation set this dish apart from any I know.
The southern fried chicken served as an admirable companion to the pot pie in taste and show. Two large breasts and a hefty wing lay upon the pile of potatoes, greens, and Texas toast. The crispy, brown exterior of the chicken consists of Max’s own jalapeño-buttermilk marinade that is deep fried slow and low at 250. The meat itself is moist, rosy pink, and not overpowered by the tasty spices coating the skin. Though the collard greens and homefries spoke to my soul, I wish we had ordered the chicken and waffles instead, so to appreciate other components from the kitchen.
Located in the heart of Uptown, an area known for its one-way streets, maze-like setup, and countless tow-away zones, Max’s Wine Dive is an easy find with a convenient parking garage located right behind the restaurant. Between the helpful staff, organized management, and innovative kitchen, Max’s combines its 150+ wine selection and comfort food to a tee. Chef Patrick divides the menu into “Classics” and “Chef’s Seasonal Creation,” with homey originals like Max’N Cheese, Signature Blend Burger, and Shrimp & Grits, paired with more quirky items such as Nacho Mama’s Oysters, Wagyu Steak & Eggs, and Pork Stuffed Piquillo Peppers. There are additional restaurant locations in Houston, Austin, and San Antonion as well.