Things to Do in Chicago: Saved By The Max
Chicago’s Saved by the Bell pop-up diner, Saved by the Max, officially opened June 1st for the summer. Prix fixe dinner reservations were immediately booked up, with an extensive wait list. I snagged a prime 7:00 spot when they extended the pop-up run through the end of 2016. The hype was so high that our reservation for late November was made in June. Was the nostalgic experience worth the wait?
The off North Avenue feels like walking into a retro high school hallway, complete with custom lockers for the characters of Saved by the Bell. The main dining space looks just like the Bayside diner, with the addition of a wraparound bar that serves local Goose Island beer and themed cocktails. Since we made reservations for the prix fixe dinner, our meals were already paid for- we just had to choose an option from the three courses.
Our group shared three of the appetizer choices: Snow White and the Seven Dorks (wings), AC Sliders, and Mac & Screech. The highlight was the skillet-served mac and cheese, but I was also impressed by the Goose Island braised pulled pork with Lillie’s Q Gold Sauce on the sliders.
Saved by the Max’s food is undoubtedly steps above what Zak, Kelly and the gang used to have, as the menu was created by Executive Chef, Brian Fisher formerly of Michelin-starred Schwa. I enjoyed the Poutine Engel for dinner, which was a huge delicious mess that one person couldn’t possibly eat, and my friends highly recommended Tori’s Fried Chicken.
And just when you think you couldn’t eat another bite, you’ve got to choose a dessert option. I went local and had the rotating slice from Bang Bang Pie, which was pumpkin and amazing. Aim for the stars and get the Snack Attack, Twinkie ice cream topped with strawberries, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Twinkie ice cream.
Overall, the experience lived up to the hype. From the classic 90’s soundtrack to a glass case filled with real props from the series, Saved by the Max will please everyone, even those who aren’t Saved by the Bell superfans, because the food is great. The service was prompt and wonderful. Each person paid $35 for the meal, plus tax and tip ahead of time, so we just got up to go when we were done. It was very fun and I can’t wait to see what’s next for nostalgic Chicagoans . Central Perk, anyone?
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