Disclaimer: This restaurant serves Pepsi products!
When I first went into a Max & Erma's a couple of years ago, I didn't have high hopes. Most modern restaurants all seem to me to be not much better than Denny's. A few have come to stand out, and as my foodie tastes evolve, I tend to find myself willing to spend a bit more money for better-tasting food.
When you first walk into a M&E restaurant, hopes are not high. It is attired with all the accoutrements of Applebees and TGIF; pictures and paraphenalia line the walls, and the staff greets you at the door to seat you. Score for originality: 0.
Queue your seat... next to the large clawfoot bathtub that has been converted into a ice cream sundae bar. Ok, this is different. The waitress will then do the cliche: point out specials, and ask you if you want their famous chocolate-chip cookies. They impress upon you they need to order those first, because they bake them fresh and they take a few minutes. They will also ask to if you want to sample their famous tortilla soup.
That soup is now my addiction. If I think about it, I will salivate, and depending on how long it has been since my last "fix", I will nag my husband into dragging me there for an innocent bite to eat. Little does he know the darker side of the visit...
A bowl of jalapeno cheesy-chicken goodness with crispy tortilla strips to stir into it. It is spicy, but not overly so, it is rich and gooey and warm and warms you up... and it has something in it that makes you crave it. If you go, try this stuff. Seriously. I hate spicy foods generally, but this stuff is amazing.
That being tried, I must say the rest of the menu is divine. Their bar service is good, and the desserts are awesome (they serve banana creme pies... besides Baker's Square, how many places do you know that do?), but the rest of the food is hearty, tasty, and comes in LARGE servings. Everything is tasty, although I personally find the parmesan chicken a bit salty.
Their trademark hamburger, the Garbage burger... looks like one. It has guacamole, all the normal fixins, cheeses... is basically a trip to the cardiologist waiting to happen. The one thing they took from their menu that I loved, the meatloaf, was also divine. Their pot pie is great, and so are all of their salads. Appetizers are good too, but nothing out of par from say, TGIF. Anything you get from here will taste good and have a LOT of it. With their take home order too, you can always just pick up the stuff to go and come home to snarf it up in front of the TV.
Their menu does offer diet fare, including carb-conscious snacks, too. However, if you are coming to this restaurant in the first place, I really don't think it would be when you are on a diet. The food is just overall way too fattening. It is tasty tho.
Pricing is moderate, on par with Olive Garden or Applebees. Service is wonderful, and they always have good deals.
Advice? Try this place out. If for nothing else, the soup. You will find yourself coming back for more...