Max'd Out

Max & Myrl's Chill Pad, a funky little Caribbean gem at Central and Thomas, has closed because of the death of its chef-owner, Bert Sylvester. Sylvester, 51, suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm New Year's Eve.

It's been a rough few months for the Valley's Caribbean chefs -- in November, Myron "Bubba" Stephenson, chef-owner of downtown Phoenix's popular Caribbean and Creole restaurant Chez Bubba's, died from coronary complications after a kidney transplant.

Max & Myrl's opened in February next to Durant's. The brightly painted place quickly became a favorite for its jerk chicken, fiery shrimp sandwich, Creole red beans and rice, rum-flambéed bananas Foster, and chocolate plantain tart.

Max & Myrl's (named for its owners' dogs) was Sylvester's second restaurant. The first was the Caribbean Exchange in Phoenix, opened after he interned with Jacques Pepin in France. He also worked as a chef for Carnival Cruise Lines.

After days of "agonizing deliberation," it was "time for all of us at Max & Myrl's to say goodbye," says Sylvester's life partner and restaurant co-owner Patty Coughlin.

While Max & Myrl's is no more, Stephenson's family is still running Chez Bubba's on First Street south of Roosevelt. They have since opened a second location at Heritage Square, Seventh Street and Monroe.

Bone Appetit: Whatever my personal feelings are toward bringing pets to restaurants (I'm all for it), the Maricopa County health department feels differently. During its December inspection of Mickey's Hangover, a popular restaurant and bar near the Galleria in downtown Scottsdale, inspectors cited the owners for a violation of the health code. According to the report, a department worker discovered a dog hanging about with its owner in the dining area.

Asked how it felt about being booted, the dog said, "Ruff."

Crème of the Crop: Here's a convenience store that puts Circle K to shame. La Crème Deli at 108th Street and Via Linda in Scottsdale looks like a standard soda-and-slush purveyor, but the selection astounds. Hungry? Grab a great, prepared-to-order sandwich made with Block & Barrel meat -- perhaps turkey breast, pepperjack cheese, lettuce and tomato on rye -- for only $3. Thirsty? Alongside the Budweiser, there's Blue Moon beer, a Belgian wheat white ale; Napoleon Courvoisier Cognac ($79.69); and Patron Tequila Añejo ($56.99). Other treats include cigars, Nanci's frozen yogurt, fresh fritters, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, and those stop-and-go staples, Sugar Pops and Lucky Charms cereal.


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