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Restaurants & Bars 12

CFS at Max’s Diner or “Surviving the horror of brown gravy”

Pssst | Sep 22, 200304:05 PM

So hearing tales of a decent Chicken Fried Steak at Max’s, I felt obliged to check it out. (Unlike tales of a good CFS at Denny’s which I have no intention of verifying since I’m poor and I’m not wasting my money confirming that their CFS is as mediocre as the rest of their menu.)

First we went to the Max’s at Opera Plaza but they don’t have CFS on their menu. So we moved on to the Max’s on 3rd Street. We arrived Sunday evening just before closing. We were seated, the waitress brought us water and inquired if we wanted beverages. I said no but we were ready to order. I asked if the CFS came with white gravy. She said yes. I ordered a CFS and an order of fries with gravy.

Anyway, our order arrived – a supposed CFS with white gravy with a side of veggies and mashed potatoes with MUSHROOM gravy. What’s up with that? Then our waitress set down the order of fries noting nicely that “I had them put on extra gravy for you” but it was MUSHROOM gravy. %*&^! I should have known better! I’ve learned over and over that there are things you can't take for granted when you’re ordering Southern Food outside the South. I should have been explicit and asked for white gravy on everything but having inquired about white gravy, it never occurred to me.

Anyway, the CFS looked good and I wasn’t in the mood to quibble. But then we took our first bites of the CFS and discovered it was Chicken Fried Chicken instead of Chicken Fried Steak. $%#&! It was late and the staff was doing their clean-up closing routine so it took a while to get our waitress’ attention but eventually we did confirm that they did have CFS and she would fix our order.

While we waited, we nibbled on our fries & gravy, which is nowhere near as good with mushroom gravy so we quickly lost our enthusiasm. Also, the lightly fried thick cut fries got soggy quickly. If I were to order it again, I would order the fries "well" with a side of white gravy.

So then we got our CFS plate. The green beans & carrots on the side were fresh and still crisp which was quite nice. The mashed potatoes were good enough – they were very dense and lumpy but whatever fat they used was not butter.

The CFS was decent enough. It was cooked in a fryer, not a skillet. The meat was a dense, tough, pressed steak – not the best quality I’ve had but not the worst. The breading started out puffy and crisp but didn’t hold out against the gravy. Also, breading quickly separated from the steak. The white gravy had a good texture and was good enough once I added salt, pepper and hot sauce. I’m not sure what fat they used to start the gravy but it was bland. FYI - it was a white gravy, not a white sausage gravy.

Final Verdict – It’s the best CFS I’ve had in SF, but that’s not saying much since in 18 years, I haven’t had a CFS in SF that I would order again.

FYI – its $12.95 for the CFS with mashed potatoes and veggies. OK – SF is a more expensive city but, ya know, the CFS at Threadgill’s (Austin, Tx) is only $8.25 so it really chafes to spend almost $5 more for a substantially lower quality item.

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