I have a little obsession with fried chicken—it is probably one of my most favored comfort foods around. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I drove the other people I worked with crazy wanting to eat at the Merritt bakery in Oakland, CA because their fried chicken was so good. And coincidentally, Oakland was also the first place I ever had the whole chicken and waffle combo—at a place called “Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.” Anyway, Maxine’s has been on my list since I first heard about it, but I have only just now managed to get there.
I have read several different reviews of this place and have always wondered why the only fried chicken anyone ever talks about are the wings (that come with the waffles). Usually, when I get fried chicken, I would go with some other pieces myself. Once I got there, I realized, it is because any of the other pieces are a 25-35 minute wait, as they are all cooked to order, and who has that kind of time at lunch? Now granted, they are open for dinner as well, but, well, since there is no liquor, I knew I wouldn’t be getting hubby in there for dinner.
First of all, I read some pretty mixed reviews about the service, but when we went in, we were greeted and seated immediately and were waited on by a very gracious server who was extremely helpful and friendly. I even heard her back there yelling at the kitchen when something was taking too long. So, as for the service, I have absolutely no complaints.
We got some of the fried cornbread to start, which was not exactly what I was expecting, more like a cornbread pancake—but very tasty nonetheless. They were just made, and very warm and unique--unlike any cornbread I have had. They were good on their own and also with the peach butter that was served alongside them. It was a nice compliment and I think I ended up preferring them with the peach butter, although I ate them both ways.
Since I did not have that kind of time to spend at lunch either, I went with the classic chicken and waffle combo, which is one large freshly made waffle and three fried chicken wings. The waffle is obviously freshly made, pleasantly crisp on the outside with the soft inside and served with a little cup of the peach butter on top. In this case, I think I preferred the waffle just with the traditional syrup rather then the peach butter, but maybe that is just me. The chicken wings were very large wings (I would hate to run into that bird in a dark alley) and extremely meaty. The meat was very tender and hot, and they were obviously made to order. I was amazed at how juicy they were. The coating was more of a breading type coating with some seasoning, and while it was good, and the skin was crisp, I found it to be a little lacking in flavor, and not to be my favorite fried chicken in Indy. I think I prefer a bit more of a crunchy crust with a bit more seasoning. And while both parts of this meal were good, I am still not totally onboard with the chicken and waffle thing, but obviously it is a combo that people like, as it is certainly not the first place I have seen it, and it is the name of the restaurant for goodness sakes. Call me a traditionalist though, I would rather have some mashed potatoes and a biscuit next to my fried chicken.
Now, hubby, on the other hand, ordered the blackened catfish sandwich, which I was a little dubious about when he ordered it, but I have to say, it was outstanding. And he loved it. This was by far the better thing on the table. The seasoning on the catfish was perfect—amazing flavor. And the catfish itself was super juicy and thick, not overdone at all. In fact our server told us it was one of her favorites. The portion was a little crazy, it was two large fish fillets on a bun—he pretty much instantly took one off to eat it. Of course, we managed to finish off most of the other fillet before the meal was over—it was just so yummy.
The portions are large—and if you are worried that chicken wings won’t fill you up, you needn’t be. Between the two of us, we were pretty uncomfortably full and in fact were still moaning a bit by the time dinner rolled around.
I think the key to this place is look over the menu and order what sounds good—just because it has “chicken and waffles” in the name doesn’t mean it is the only thing to order. And hey, why we are at it, what is your favorite spot in Indy for fried chicken? Still on a quest for the best….
Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles
132 North East Street