Chicago’s ‘Saved By The Max’ is More Than a Nostalgic Experience

Despite missing out when the initial dinner tickets went on sale nearly 2 months ago, a good friend invited me to checkout the Saved By The Bell pop-up cafe in Wicker Park. With a 7:30 PM reservation, we arrived early enough to grab a beer at Piece, just a few doors down, while a line of walk-ups stretched down North Avenue toward the Milwaukee intersection. It feels cruel yet cool when you can pass the whole line to make your reservation.

Entering the SFCO doors (formerly Geek Bar), you’re greeted by a giant Bayside logo, Zack Morris’ row of lockers, and a long walled-off hall to the check-in point.

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It eerily gives you similar excitement and anxious intrigue as Wonka’s boat ride. Okay, that might be extreme but that’s what I felt walking 20 feet and unsure of what I’ll see around the corner…

…then the relief that followed.

It’s not big by any means, but it’s very comfortable inside. That is probably thanks to the reservation system To the left, around the corner of the host’s station, there is a bar surrounded by stools and a few hightop tables. You’ll notice at times that there are some empty barstools and it was explained to us that the staff will try to be as accommodating as possible for single walkups or parties of 2 to fill them up.

When seated at our booth, we were given separate drink and a dinner menus to skim over.

 

Our server, Amy, gave us great recommendations off both menus. Starting with the “Mark Paul 75”

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A French 75 with G.H. Mumm Champagne, Plymouth Gin, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Lemon Twist and Luxardo Cherry.

I’m not sure if the kids at Bayside ever drank out of a martini glass this fancy on the show, but I highly doubt that Kelly would mind it.

Included with your $45 reservation ticket, you got an appetizer, entree and desert with your meal. The drinks and sides aren’t included, but that’s really okay. Going in a party of 2 or more allows you to pick and try multiple dishes from Chef Brian Fisher, formerly of Michelin-starred restaurant, Schwa.

When asked about my thoughts on the experience, I have to lead off by gushing over how good the food was. Crediting Chef Brian’s menu and Amy’s recommendations, I’ll just share my selections.

Appetizers

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“AC Sliders” – Goose Island braised pulled pork and Lillie’s Q gold barbecue sauce with a touch of Jameson.

“Snow White and the Seven Dorks” – Lebanese seven spiced chicken wings with herbed yogurt.

It’s hard not to get the sliders based on the name alone, but they truly are an excellent choice. The pork is tender, the sauce is delicious and the pickle compliments it all perfectly.

The wings were a nice surprise. We anticipated them to be a little spicy but it’s sweeter than you’d expect. The “Mac and Screech” would have been another choice that made me wish we had one more person to sample with.

Entree

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“Tori’s Fried Chicken” – Goose Island 312 and coconut milk waffle with Korean Fried Chicken and spiced maple syrup.

Have you ever placed an order and felt like “I JUST WON AT ORDERING DINNER” after eating it? That’s exactly how I felt here. The sweet syrup combined with the spicy sauce, plus fried chicken and waffles in between, is a mouth experience that deserves an “achievement unlocked” immediately after.

We were warned before checking out the menu that the kitchen was out of biscuits. I don’t know if it from was reading the description for “Mr. Dewey’s Honey Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy” or being told we couldn’t have them, but that’s something I’d really like to go back for.

Dessert

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Snack Attack – Twinkie Ice Cream topped with Strawberry Feulletine, fresh strawberries, vanilla wafers and whipped cream. 

Great palate cleanser. I can’t say that I knew what Twinkie ice cream was beforehand, but I do occasionally crave it since trying it. Where you at, Ben & Jerry’s?!

Since I know you’re wondering, this is the only reference you need from the cafe’s bathroom…

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The food, the service and the atmosphere were all excellent. I would love to go back again sometime this summer to find out what #BaysideAfterDark is all about. Here is a whole schedule of events from now until the end of June, starting at 11 PM. “Late Nights” appear to be available for walkups only too. For times, press and contact info, checkout the Saved By The Max website.

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Piffcast: Saved by the 90’s Nostalgia Pop-Up Cafe

TIMEOUT!

Listen as we take you on a “wild ride” of Game of Thrones reactions, Lord of the Rings comparisons, Ghostbusters needing better NBA Finals promotion, TJ’s men’s fashion rants, wedding registries, the Saved By the Bell pop-up diner in Chicago, other TV or movie restaurants we would like to try, and then some…

We also take a moment to discuss Muhammad Ali and the tributes to his life, career and impact over the weekend following his passing. Simply The Greatest.

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Piffcast: Memorial Day 2016 w/ The Next James Bond, Riot Fest and More

For your Memorial Day Listening, Michael and TJ give their guests a breather and cover a vast array of topics all on their own. They discuss their favorites of the NEXT James Bond candidates, some of our favorite video games, the Riot Fest Chicago lineup, Game of Thrones (per usual), and all the tangents that come with.

Listeners ALSO get in on the fun by asking ANYTHING and the guys do their best to answer them. Questions include: The #1 Sport for America, Favorite Simpsons Characters, Sports to add to the Olympics, and our favorite things to do in Chicago.

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Piffcast: Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra Kick Out ‘THE JAMZ’ on Netflix

The creators/writers/co-executive producers/stars of The Jamz, Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra, join the show! We discuss how the workplace comedy came together, the New York Television Festival and Indie TV, influences for the show and characters, plus filming in and identifying with Chicago. Jim, Chris, TJ and I also hold a “Favorite Chicago-based Films and TV shows Draft”. You can let us know who won and also watch the show on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and XBOX. (23:17 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Meanwhile, a congratulations is in order for TJ, spoiler-less reaction to Game of Thrones, superhero show rankings, and a preview of the upcoming Summer TV that we’re looking forward to.

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‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 3 Trailer, Coming Soon To Netflix

The “tall handsome man” raises his “red right hand” again, as Cillian Murphy and company return to Netflix at the very end of May.

Peaky Blinders season 3 premiered in the UK on the BBC May 5th, but all 6 episodes will be made available for streaming on Netflix, May 31. Taking place in 1920s Birmingham, England, The Shelby family find themselves in the middle of an international arms deal that can change history. Per usual, Thomas, played by Murphy, seems to be doing all he can to keep everything above water, while shedding plenty of blood at the same time.

Oscar nominee Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road) reprises his role as Jewish crime lord Alfie Solomons and Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, Bourne Ultimatum) joins the cast as Father Hughes.

You can stream the first two seasons on Netflix now, and will likely get through them within the weekend. The show is dark, fast-paced, visually cool and the accompanying rock music takes you back to the old Guy Ritchie films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. It’s the first show on Netflix I recommend to friends when they ask for something new to watch.

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Piffcast: The Fourteenth – “Classic Rock is a Right of Passage” w/ James VanOsdol

Super excited to have radio DJ/podcast host/author/music lover James VanOsdol join the show! I refer to him as Chicago Radio’s Renaissance Man (Rivet Radio, Q101, 97.9 The Loop, WGN Radio, WKQX < – – That’s why). We discuss his Sunday night program, Demo 312 on WKQX 101.1, promoting new local alternative music. We also get his take on the current state of podcasting and talked about his own podcast, Car Con Carne...it’s the world’s only food podcast recorded in a car (with a wicked theme song). Plus, I shamelessly geek out a little and that’s okay. (21:43 mark, to jump ahead)

TJ and I also talk about how we got to where we are, why we do what we do, and whole lot more. 

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Piffcast: The Thirteenth – Jessica Kleinschmidt and The Winter Soldier

Making her return to The Piffcast is FanDuel sportswriter Jessica Kleinschmidt! With Chicago being the hottest town in baseball at the moment, we ask Jessica to settle a few Cubs/White Sox arguments for their respective fanbases that will likely come up before the Crosstown Cup series. We also cast our own version of the Space Jam sequel, but with Major League Baseball players. Find out if your favorites make the cut! (27:21 mark, if you’d like to jump ahead)

Now that Captain America: Civil War is finally here, TJ and I (WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS) discuss what the movie got right compared to Batman v. Superman. I also reveal where it ranks in my “Favorite Movies of 2016 so far” list.

Feel free to react as you listen on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe on iTunes here and listen to our past Piffcast episodes