On Monday, I walked into Max’s Wine Dive on Washington, and I realized this ain’t no ordinary wine dinner that I was used to. The entire restaurant was booming with all the staff in costume and Mardi Gras beads everywhere. This wasn’t Max’s Wine Dive — this was New Orleans. (Ahem, the Take Me Back To Bourbon Street Mystery Dinner.)
Feeling a little bit in a whirlwind, I sat down at the end of the bar. In front of me was a name tag, “Jacques,” and a piece of paper describing who I was (a New Orleans cop, very suspicious of everyone, zero chill). Everyone around us was also team Jacques, and other tables were different people. The first clue is I guess just who we are (as real people meeting our team and bartender and as Jacques). We very messily munched on crawfish (or lobsters, they were the size of lobsters) and sipped wine-based hurricanes, which were totally gross at first but then ended up being my absolute favorite. A bunch of my fellow Jacqueses (sp?) bypassed other wine pairings and got more of the hurricanes. After finishing the crawfish and cleaning (sorta) my spiced hands, I was ready to solve a murder. I thought. I didn’t know what was happening, tbh.
Now that we’ve all been introduced, we get our first clue. Some info was for Jacques team ONLY and some was OK to reveal. You find out that we hate this Leon guy, but so does everyone. We have the clue and our course (oysters three ways — fried, my favorite, raw and baked, also amazing) and wine pairing for just a few minutes when our team leader/bartender encourages us to go out and mingle. Challenge accepted.
We talk to Leon who is next to us and we also talk to Zenobia. Neither convo is very telling, but I realized I told Zenobia info that was supposedly secret. Ugh. Already failing at being paranoid Jacques. I head back to my seat to drink more wine and be ashamed of myself.
Our second official clue gets exciting. We find out that Leon really did you dirty as a kid, and you want revenge. Also wanting revenge on Leon is Clovis, who was an executive chef at his restaurant and Leon paid someone $100 to sneak rats’ meat into his gumbo. Clovis then lost his job and is now a street performer all because of that rat-invested gumbo. Guess what we ate? Gumbo. Sans rat… hopefully.
JK, the gumbo is delicious and spicy. I eat a good portion, then went to try to confront Clovis. All my teammates are ON TOP OF IT. A few are talking to Leon and the others are talking to Clovis. I’m out of suspects to interrogate, so I hang back and confer with the other Jacqueses after.
Leon was found murdered in the bathroom. TIME TO SNAP INTO ACTION, TEAM JACQUES. OK. Now we have all our clues and our character was one of the last people to see him alive. We start getting a preliminary autopsy and investigation together. THIS IS OUR TIME TO SHINE.
Meanwhile, we are served gator poboys. The sauce is so good, but I’m not gators’ biggest fan, so I focus on the murder.
Leon was found strangled with Mardi Gras beads. We take the beads and take their prints. We find five people’s prints and guess what: I don’t even know 3 of their names! Ugh, time to do some digging. Apparently, our prime suspects all left the dinner party before the murder. We rule out any women because of the strangling — need some strength.
The prints reveal a new guy who hates Leon — Jean Baptiste, who’s a football ref and made Leon mad the other day because some of the calls he made. He’s also half blind and half deaf, so he’s essentially harmless.
Course 5/last chance to mingle
Our crawfish étouffée with fried shrimp and catfish is distractingly amazing. I’m pretty full by now and my wine pairings are stacking up. I eat what I can and catch up on drinking the wine. We’re also starting to think WE did the murdering. One lady comes up to tell us about how crooked NOLA cops are (IRL, actually), so we think maybe this is a plot twist: Crooked cop kills guy over childhood issue. We are pretty strong and we saw him last AND found the body.
I think we’re all pretty convinced we did it. Time to watch the reveal.
Dessert and the reveal
We had beignets and sherry and waited to find out whodunnit. The beignets were light and fluffy and the Sherry was STRONG. Our team leaders lined up and told us if they were innocent or not.
We didn’t do it. Neither did our other prime suspects. GUESS WHAT?! It was the half-deaf, half-blind football ref! Apparently his bad calls were catching up with him. Leon was gonna expose him and get him fired. Juicy stuff.
It was all so fun (and so yum) and I really enjoyed meeting these people and playing along. All our team hugged each other bye (after extensive photo sessions). Would DEFINITELY do it again. Like the Facebook page for Max’s so you don’t miss out. This one was $95, but I’m sure a less extensive dinner is cheaper.
I love Max’s! Thanks for sharing this! Love that your in Houston!