Monday, January 19, 2009

Cream City Bluegrass Plays Maxie’s Southern Comfort

We’ve blogged before on the Cream City Bluegrass Band, and are rather a fan of the group.

This Saturday evening, they will be playing again at Maxie’s Southern Comfort Restaurant (their first gig there was in November).

Not only is the bluegrass going to be good, but Maxie’s is a rather fashionable restaurant that has wowed local food critics. said that it “does New Orleans style with distinction.” It was designated the “Best New Restaurant” by the Shepherd Express, and Gayot enthuses that “Down-home food and hospitality reign supreme at this spicy city spot.”

Eating at Maxie’s

What none of the reviews say is that Maxie’s is a fine place to eat cheaply. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of place where one goes to eat cheaply: it’s trendy, with a stylish interior and good food. But with a little strategy it can be the perfect night out for the miser.

In the first place, portions are very large. On a recent visit, both our son and our son-in-law were able to eat about half the Jambalaya they were served. We ate the remainder of our son’s portion the next day, and found it delicious. (Our son thought it under-spiced.) We had the Pulled Pork Plate, which is identified as “eastern North Carolina-style.” It was indeed good Southern style “pulled pork,” with a sauce more piquant than the mid-South sort we are used to, and it was delicious. But it could easily have been shared between two people, especially if paired with a salad, or a bowl of the delicious gumbo, or the almost equally delicious Crab and Corn chowder.

Speaking of salads, they are a mixed lot. The Caesar Salad is mediocre at best, short on the distinctive anchovy taste of a good Caesar (and certainly lacking the richness of the un-politically correct era when a Caesar salad contained a raw egg). But both the Supper Club Salad and the Roasted Red Grape & Watercress Salad were good, with a taste dominated by the vinaigrette and the cheese (goat cheese in one case, and bleu in the other). We don’t know how Southern these are, since the Supper Club Salad is virtually identical to the one Trocadero serves, but tasty is tasty.

It’s a big temptation to make a meal from just a salad and/or gumbo and/or an appetizer and/or a side dish. The appetizers are a mixed lot. The Fried Green Tomatoes with remoulade are good, with a bit more of a crust than we are used to. But the Hickory Smoked Wings are done in by the fact that they have a lot more crust than chicken. We actually like Appleby’s wings better! These are in fact just buffalo wings, which originated in a place that gets more snow in a week than Birmingham gets in a generation.

The Cracker-Crusted Oysters with creamy mignonette, however, are excellent. The crabcake is good too, although it’s rather small.

The side dishes are both very good and served in very generous portions. We have, twice now, had a lunch of left-over Maxie’s BBQ Beans, rather spicy and cooked with a fair amount of pork.

A vegetarian colleague of ours assures us that he found several good selections on Maxie’s menu.

The Eating Cheaply Strategy

Given that entrées (with generous sides included) are mostly in the $12-18 range at Maxie’s, that appetizers are in the $9-11 range, and side dishes in the $4-5 range -- with all generous and capable of being shared, it should be obvious that two can eat pretty reasonably there.

It could be a great place for a cheap date -- but with the proviso that young ladies tend to like a bit of extravagance, at least early on. But if one has a parsimonious spouse of a few decades who views a night out not as an act of connubial chivalry, but rather a debit against the household budget, Maxie’s is the place.

But It Gets Better

One can eat at Maxie’s at half price.

That’s right. Maxie’s is one of the restaurants available via Wise Savings:

You can buy certificates for (say) $50 of food for $25 (and so on in other denominations). You can cover the tab with any number of certificates (say, a $50 certificate and two $10 certificates for a $70 tab). In theory, the certificates do not cover the taxes. In practice, they always do.

They don’t cover the tip, which (of course) should be based on the undiscounted amount of the tab.

These certificates sometimes sell out for a particular quarter or month, but at the moment there seems to be a good stock, according to the prople at Wise Savings.

To top it all off, there is no cover charge for entertainment. It all sounds like a huge bargain to us.

Cream City Bluegrass is at Maxie’s this Saturday evening (1/24/09), performing from 9:00 until midnight.

Maxie’s is at 6732 W Fairview, Milwaukee, WI. That’s just a short half-block north from the 68th Street I-94 exit.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I actually went on Saturday and listened. We had a table right in front of the band, and they were very good. They had some audio issues... but I think that was mostly due to the fact that they had a wall that was close behind them, reflecting the monitor and caused some feedback, but otherwise excellent.

9:34 PM  

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