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A True Neighbor

Cozy and eclectic, Maxine’s on Shine is the neighbor you wish lived next door.

If you’ve never been to Maxine’s on Shine, you might find yourself a little confused when your GPS sends you to a block of residential homes in the Colonialtown area. But don’t turn around, you’re not lost—this eatery, set between two inconspicuous homes, is just a part of the neighborhood.

Opened in 2012, Maxine’s on Shine is led by owner-operators Kirt and Maxine Earhart, and its menu is the work of chef George Volgerbacher. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner and brunch is offered on the weekends. Maxine’s also has live music in the evenings throughout the week.

The atmosphere of this spot is relaxed. In fact, the restaurant’s website says it welcomes diners to “the parlor of a friend’s home.” And I’d say that’s accurate going by the cozy feel of the dining room, which is eclectically decorated with local art.

My friend and I visited Maxine’s on a Saturday for an early dinner. Since it was before the evening rush, we were easily able to find parking next to the restaurant in its tiny lot, which has maybe five spaces total. If you’re visiting during peak hours, expect to park street side or around the corner. The weather was nice so we had the hostess seat us out on the patio so we could watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood.

Maxine’s does not have a custom cocktail list, which is understandable considering it was just last year that the Florida Legislature passed a law allowing restaurants this small to even have liquor licenses. But all the classics are available from highballs with your choice of tequila, rum, whiskey or gin or popular cocktails such as Old-Fashioneds and margaritas.

To start, I ordered a glass of La Gioiosa prosecco ($9.50) and my friend ordered a Moscow Mule ($10). Curiously, the Moscow Mule was not served in a copper mug, but rather a Mason jar that had a stem. But the drink was executed properly with the ginger flavor balanced by a squeeze of lime. The prosecco was bubbly, floral and slightly sweet. The wine selection here is small, with just one or two options of the most popular varietals. As for beer, there’s a curated list of Florida brews and some selections of popular beers from around the country.

For appetizers, we ordered the Key West Crab Cakes ($12) and the Bruschetta (half portion, $5). The crostini for the bruschetta was piled high with marinated tomatoes, basil, shaved Manchego and fresh mozzarella and then it was all drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The mozzarella was so soft, a sign that it was truly fresh. But our bread could have been toasted just a little bit longer as it got slightly soggy.

The crab cakes were perhaps my favorite dish of the night. The cakes were delicate, just lightly fried and full of sweet lump crab meat. The accompanying firecracker sauce, a balance of sweet and savory, was a hit as well.

Maxine’s has various specials throughout the week apart from its normal menu. Our server detailed a few to us including a Vegetable Lasagna and Wild Caught Sea Scallops, but we decided to stick with the regular menu. So, for my entrée, I ordered the Lobster Ravioli ($25), which features pasta stuffed with bits of lobster and cheese, sautéed scallops, shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, all in a sherry cream sauce.

On this dish, the chef did not skimp on anything with a generous serving of seafood, four large ravioli and a piece of toasted bread to soak up the sauce. The sherry in the sauce added some much needed acidity to all the cheesiness, while the sun-dried tomatoes also cut through the richness, and I thought it all worked together nicely.

My friend ordered the Brisket Burger ($14). It was cooked to order, topped with bacon, a fried egg, cheddar and bacon jam, and served on a kaiser roll. Seasoned steak fries came on the side. While all the elements of this burger worked in coordination, the highlight of it was the bacon jam that lent an extra salty sweetness to each bite.

Our server did not have a menu to give us for dessert but she listed off what they had available, which included cake and two types of crème brûlée, one without chocolate and one with it.

We opted for without chocolate. Our Crème Brûlée ($8) was served to us with pieces of strawberries and blueberries on top and a raspberry drizzle on the plate. The sugar on top was crystallized just right and when we broke in, we found the cream to be smooth and sweet.

Overall, Maxine’s seems to be exactly what it advertises itself as: a cozy neighborhood spot for enjoying local art, live music and, most importantly, the kind of generous food that only a true neighbor could serve up.

Maxine’s on Shine
337 N. Shine Ave. | Orlando
407-674-6841 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s October 2019 issue.