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And it's possibly the best fried chicken in Vancouver—gluten-free or otherwise.
The thing about discovering you’re gluten intolerant later in life (hey, migraines!) is that you gaze fondly at your friend’s dinners and remember just how excellent things could be in the beforetimes. I mean, full of crippling migraines back then too, but damn was the food great.
Oh, fried chicken, how I’ve missed you.
Until this past weekend, that is, when I asked about the fried chicken on Maxine’s Cafe and Bar’s happy hour menu ($12). (It’s on the regular menu too [$17 for dinner], but this was a rainy-day afternoon respite from shopping for an outfit for our upcoming Power 50 awards—stay tuned for the big reveal on that list, this Thursday, February 2!). I’m always semi-embarrassed about my dietary restrictions, because I hate being perceived as difficult or worse, following a dietary trend. But I was chatting with manager Alain Canuel, and said something like, “That fried chicken there is probably breaded, right? Definitely not gluten-free? I mean totally okay if it is. Totally okay.” And wiped away a small tear.
Only he stopped me and said, “Of course it is! We try to do as much of our menu gluten-free as we can!” And I cried, and my friend hugged me, and we ordered the chicken. (The latter part an over-dramatization of how it actually rolled out, but yes, I did get the amazing chicken.)
And it is fantastic. As I’ve said, I know beforetimes chicken, and I know after-gluten chicken, and this one better than them all. It’s perfectly crispy—thanks to a quick dip in herbs, spices and GF The Good Flour Co. flour (a made-in-Vancouver, great gluten-free flour blend from the company formerly known as NextJen)—and incredibly juicy on the inside. It’s dredged in tabasco honey sauce (which I couldn’t get enough of—made with local honey infused with spice) and comes with a few house-made briny pickles too.
And on a winter’s afternoon, I’m not sure there’s a more magic spot in the West End than Maxine’s. With a central bar topped with perforated brass arches, warm leather booths and café chairs throughout, you feel as though you’re in cozy Parisian bistro, not steps from Burrard Street. And with a glass of $7 happy-hour sparkling alongside that incredible gluten-free fried chicken, I had a truly perfect Saturday afternoon.
Maxine’s Cafe and Bar, 1325 Burrard Street, maxinescafebar.com