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Jan 11, 2008 04:52 AM

Max London's, Saratoga Springs

We made our first visit to Max London's last night, the first of many, I'm sure. Casual and upscale, great bar (Saratoga's first Pegu Club cocktail?). It's a tapas-plus large-plate-special+pizza concept. Ate from the small plates side of the menu, blue-cheese stuffed dates and a couple of Spanish cheeses with drinks, salads, pasta, and pizza afterwards, then split a dessert. My pizza was a high point, anchovies and red cherrry peppers, crusty and smoky from the wood oven,; B's pasta was a low point, tagliarini with crabmeat, drastically over-peppered. We expected more from dessert, given that Max is the offspring of Mrs. London, whose world-class French patisserie is next door, but our flourless-chocolate cake slice with pistachio icecream was good, but certainly not up to Mrs. London standards. Breads are from Rock Hill bakery, and Mike London, whose business that is, was overseeing the front of the house, and available to talk bread.

Small plates and pizzas were $8-$15, so our meal with two cocktails (perfect Perfect Manhattan!), two tapas with drinks, two salads, pasta, pizza, one dessert, two quartinos of Les Baux de Provence (interesting, moderately-priced wine list, glass-and-a-half quartinos were around $15), one dessert and one coffee was $125 before tip. Not cheap, but moderate for Saratoga Springs these days. The large plates are all specials, and one of them, a 22-oz cowboy steak, was offered for $48, which is the most expensive main course I've ever seen on a Saratoga menu, although I'm sure it would be delicious. Other specials included a grouper and a cioppino, less stratospherically priced, and a pork-belly tapas.

Service was excellent. B is allergic to garlic, and the server was entirely on top of making sure the kitchen took care of her. We've been waiting a long time for this place to open, but I think they've got it right. We look forward to our next visit.

Max London's Restaurant
Saratoga Springs, NY, Saratoga Springs, NY

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  1. Thanks for the great report! We can't wait to try this place out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JWW

      Seems like they are still trying to work out the desserts. Wendy (Mrs. London herself) is still tinkering with the desserts. They just didn't want to bring over the fancy pastries from next door, but come up with some rustic desserts more in keeping with the restaurant. I'm sure they will improve. Had a fabulous lemon/apple/almond torte the other night. Unfortunate about B's pasta. I've had the cauliflower/shrimp pasta dish and had the spinach tagliatelle with a chicken ragu the other night that was excellent. Pasta was from Spinosi-only sold in this country at Di Palo's in NYC, I believe. Can only get better.

    2. When I was young and poor and Mrs. London's was on Phila St I used to walk by on my way home and if I smelled her baguettes, would stop and they would offer me half of the tester loaf for free. Treatment like that has kept them popular in Saratoga and it sounds like the newest venture deserves our attention as well, can't wait to try it!

      1. There's a lot of mention of Max London's in the various local places to dine threads, but wanted to post here so anyone searching would find directly.

        Max London's is one of those places that you visit and immediately wish you could transport back to your favorite block at home. We would be weekly or twice weekly diners here if it were down the block from us!

        We were in Saratoga this past August for a busy racing weekend and had the pleasure of dining here on a Friday evening. The place is much larger than the pictures on their website and has that cool historic with touches of modern, decor that creates a very comfortable dining atmosphere.

        The menus is divided into small plates, pizza, pastas and daily specials so you can structure your dinner based on your mood and appetite. We wish more places would do this as we're frequent diners out and like the possibilities.

        We started with a selection of the Salumi and Cheese. The speck, serrano and chorizo were top notch, full of flavor and melt in your mouth good. The accompanying parmigiano, drunken goat and blue were equal to the salumi in freshness and depth of taste.

        We shared a salad then moved directly to the entrees. She ordered a local fish special of the day and I ordered the rabbit catchatori special of the day. Her fish was excellent and my rabbit was simply outstanding. The rabbit was in abundance in this rustic yet simple and hearty dish. We also ordered a side of the chickpea polenta fries which were more that we needed, but oh so good!

        Service throughout was efficient, cordial and professional. Their bar is also a great place to enjoy a variety of well mixed classic cocktails, a wide selection of micro brews, or an outstanding glass of wine. We returned around 10 for an early nightcap and the restaurant and bar were both full with people enjoying the evening.

        All in all, an unexpected great meal, on a busy night during the prime crush of the racing season.

        We had plans for Saturday evening at Chianti. We changed them during our dinner Friday and returned to Max London's on Saturday. Our waiter was more than helpful in getting the Saturday table confirmed and our subsequent dinner was the equal to Friday's. I actually had the rabbit for a second time, as it was so good and infrequently found on menus in our local area.

        We look forward to dining here again!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Foody4life

          ML's is a very bright new spot in SS. It's cocktails are amazing revelations, although VERY expensive ($12-$14).. Individual dishes are inexpensive but the bill quickly runs up. "Pig 3 ways" is fabulous, as are the pizzas. Hope they do lunch.

        2. Was there for dinner over the weekend. For the most part, really delicious well-executed food. The place was slammed on Saturday night, especially considering it's after Labor Day. Wondering if the Saratoga Food and Wine Festival had anything to do with it. We waited an awfully long time for our order to be taken and for our food to arrive. But it was perfectly understandable as they were so busy. We ordered way too much food as we underestimated portion size based on prices. A tapas of one scallop was $9. So we assumed that the portions were going to be a lot smaller than what was given to us. This is what we had:

          Serrano ham -- good, but cut a bit on the thick side for my taste; I prefer my ham sliced razor thin; huge portion for the $6 they charged.

          Chickpea polenta fries with black olive aioli -- my favorite of the evening. Non-greasy, warm, comforting. The black olive aioli was outstanding and complemented the fries very well.

          Copper River Salmon tartare with red onions, capers, lemon, radish, horseradish creme fraiche -- Copper River salmon is pretty expensive -- have seen it in NYC for about $40/lb at fish markets. So at the $10 price, I was picturing a very small portion. But I was floored by the humongous amount that I received here. It was good, but parts of it were oversalted. It was in certain sections, so I think they may have been a bit hasty with seasoning it and mixing it together.

          Mussels Cazuela -- it was good. Served with tomatoes, chorizo and pimenton, the dish was well cooked and very tasty.

          Piggy Back Dates -- dates stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts and wrapped with serrano ham, the dish is a beautiful simple tapas. Hard to screw up if you use quality ingredients, which they did.

          Shrimp and Chorizo pizza -- It was good except that the jalapeno chiles they added on the top were way too strong and spicy for the dish. It overwhelmed the taste of everything. Luckily they were easy to remove. DH could have sworn the menu said poblano chiles (though the online menu says chiles). Poblanos would have been a better choice. Perhaps they substituted jalapenos as they ran out of poblanos.

          Mushroom Risotto -- If you like cheese, you'll love this risotto. I thought it was very tasty, but the texture of it was too stiff for me. A risotto should run on a plate. This one just stayed in one lump. Perhaps it was sitting at the pass for too long before it was served.

          Butterscotch and fleur de sel pudding topped with whipped cream -- At first, when I tasted the whipped cream, I was a bit taken aback. It tasted like creme fraiche as opposed to whipped cream. Because the menu stated whipped cream, I wasn't sure whether it was whipped cream that had gone sour (and not in a good way like creme fraiche but in a make you sick type of way). So I didn't touch my dessert for a long time while I tried to flag down our waitress so I could ask her what the deal was. It took some time to find the waitress because she was so busy. She did tell me that it was creme fraiche because the kitchen ran out of whipped cream and she could certainly bring out the dessert plain if I liked. I told her it was fine. While I think the whipped cream was a more appropriate substance for this dessert, the creme fraiche wasn't bad, especially if you mixed it into the pudding. Pudding was delicious. One of the things I've always loved about Mrs. London's desserts is that they achieve a really balanced level of sweetness. Most places I know tend to overly sweeten their desserts, perhaps trying to cater to an overly sweet tooth or to mask inferior ingredients. I wanted to pick up some desserts at Mrs. London's for the next day after dinner, but unfortunately they were closed by the time we finished dinner.

          Overall, a very good meal. I will definitely visit again in the future. And the overall check was a lot smaller than we would have thought for the amount and quality of food and cooking.

          1. After an apertif at The Wine Bar we walked over to Max London's for dinner last night. Me for the first time, SO had been before. We shared the following:

            SMALL PLATES

            *Bocadillos-marinated Spanish white anchovies, grilled bread and piquillo piperade - delicious.

            *Chickpea polenta fries with black olive aioli - a bit different and delicious

            MEDIUM PLATE

            *SO had the rabbit. It was in a light broth with pasta. He appeared underwhelmed.

            BIG PLATE

            *I had the halibut with kale, mushrooms in a light broth. Very fresh, light and simple. Halibut was cooked perfectly. Dish was a little bland.


            French press, I had olive oil ice cream and SO had a dark chocolate mousse cake. Both were very good.

            Small plates and dessert were the highlight of our meal. Service was very good, a little slow at times considering the place was not full. We would probably go back for brunch or a dinner of small plates.

            1 Reply
            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Thought I'd give Max London's another try last night. Was craving those chickpea polenta fries and bocadillos. The restaurant was not full, bar area was almost full but I grabbed a seat at the end. The server gave me a cocktail and wine menu and a glass of water. I asked for a menu and a taste of a wine which he provided. Then he disappeared for what seemed like a really long time. Never asked how the wine was, what I wanted for dinner . . .maybe he was new? I left. Max London's is off the list. Now I know why SO never suggests Max for dinner. I will stick to Mrs. London's. Maybe she could teach Max a thing or two :)

              Had a delicious dinner at The Wine Bar.