Still Hip after all these Years
By Sally Deering
Cutting edge rock ‘n roll and comfort food that won’t bust your wallet are just two great reasons why Maxwell’s in Hoboken still grooves as a club and restaurant. Ever since the 1980s, Maxwell’s has been the Hoboken venue for up-and-coming bands and some famous ones, too, like Bruce Springsteen who filmed his “Glory Days” video at Maxwell’s, directed by filmmaker John Sayles who lived down the block.
The bar changed hands in the early 1990’s from original owner Steve Fallon, to an interim owner and in 1998 Dave Post, Todd Abramson and Steve Shelley (of the band Sonic Youth) took over. On a recent Wednesday afternoon visit, it was evident the partners have kept Maxwell’s cool reputation in tact — the ambience is still warm and friendly and the menu, a hearty selection of comfort foods that are tasty, priced low and piled high on the plate.
“Todd handles all the music, the booking of the bands, and I’m the general manager,” Post says. “We also have Chef Paco. We serve good drinking food and it suits the patrons. The richer folks might prefer spending more, but here, the fans and the kids come to get a bargain.”
From 20-somethings to Baby Boomers, Maxwell’s clientele is “ageless” and so is the menu. Appetizers include Fried Brie Cheese with sliced apples and mango sauce; Sautéed Artichoke Hearts with brown lemon butter and chardonnay sauce; Shrimp Corona, beer-battered Tiger shrimp with chili-lime dip; Twin Crabcakes with mango chutney and tartar sauce; Maxwell’s Very Thin Crust Pizza with homemade sauce and fresh mozzarella; Polish Potato Pierogies with sautéed onion and sour cream; and Hummus and Grilled Pita with black olives, carrots and celery ($5.95-$9.95). A big fan of Hummus, I was delighted by its light texture and spicy flavors. It was served with a heaping portion of warm pita, sliced cucumbers, celery and carrots for dipping.
Soups and Chili dishes are on the menu like Classic French Onion Soup ($4.95); Vegetarian Chili with red beans and diced veggies in a spicy tomato roux (cup $3.95, bowl $4.95; cheddar cheese add $1.00); and Blazin’ Beef Chili, a crock of spicy beef chili and red pinto beans with cheddar cheese ($4.95).
Big Plate Entrees include Coconut Chicken in a rum sauce with yellow rice and fried plantains ($14.95); Blackened or Grilled Tuna Steak with sweet potato fries and sliced avocado ($15.95); Baked Macaroni & Cheese with tossed greens ($10.95); Maxwell’s Mighty Fine Meat Loaf with
mash & gravy and sautéed spinach ($13.95); Guinness Battered Fish & Chips with malt vinegar and tartar sauce ($12.95); Grilled NY Strip Steak with garlic mash or fries & sautéed spinach ($19.95); and Chicken Pot Pie, white meat chicken and veggies in cream gravy, baked under a pastry crust with mashed potatoes on the side ($12.95, Petite Pot Pie ala carte $7.95). I tried the Petite Pot Pie and it was absolutely delicious. You can’t find too many restaurants offering a home-made pot pie and this one had tasty fresh peas, carrots and celery in a cream sauce with huge pieces of chicken. The crust on the pie was light and flaky and baked to perfection.
Burgers and sandwiches are Maxwell’s Half Pound Char-Grilled Burger with fries ($7.95, choice of cheeses and toppings, $1.00 each); Grilled Chicken sandwich with herb mayo and fries ($7.95); Char-Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna Steak sandwich, sundried tomato temenade, tartar sauce and fries ($9.95); Maryland-Style Crab Cake sandwich with tartar sauce, Cole slaw and fries ($9.95); Grilled Portobello sandwich with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and onion rings ($9.95); California Veggie Burger with sundried tomato and Calamata olive spread and fries ($6.95); Hoboken’s Best Quesadilla, grilled tortillas with green tomatillo sauce, jalapenos, homemade salsa and sour cream ($6.95); and the Extended Play Burrito filled with cheese, rice, beans, salsa, lettuce and tomato ($8.95; chicken $10.95).
There are daily specials, too, like the Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Tortilla bowl with black bean hummus and grilled pita; Philly Cheesesteak Quesadilla; BBQ Blue Burger, char-grilled with hickory-smoked barbeque sauce, blue cheese, bacon and cayenne fries; Tiger Shrimp Scampi over garlic toast; the “Naughty” Veggie Burger with bacon, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto and onion rings; Southern Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy and Cole slaw: Louisiana Pecan Chicken with mustard cream gravy, whipped sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach; and Blackened Pan-Fried Catfish with sweet potato fries and mixed greens ($7.95-$14.95)..
There’s a huge selection of beers, wines and cocktails and coffee and desserts, too and sipping a mug of java at the end of this tasty meal was a relaxing finale to a delish meal.
Maxwell’s is still a great hip place for a hearty dining experience and live music. There’s something for everyone at Maxwell’s. And if it’s been a while since you’ve stopped in, plan a visit. It’ll feel like you’re hanging with an old friend.
1039 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5201
Hours: Mon.-Fri, 5 p.m.-2 a.m; Sat, 5 p.m. – 3 a.m.