Max in Sherman Oaks reopens with new menu, look, and beers
Went to the reopening of Max Restaurant in Sherman Oaks last night to see and taste what all the changes were about.
They had closed for two weeks to do a makeover, and they surely did. Instead of the drab colorscheme from before, now the room has a nice golden glow with touches of red and espresso, with softer lighting - none of those awful lampshades any more, nor those beads! They kept the basic floorplan, got new carpet, new tables, repainted the chairs, and added many small decorating touches, including modifying the mirror treatment on the west wall, adding blackboards for daily specials, etc., a la your favorite bistro in France.
Well, they also turned the menu upside down. They now have appetizers such as lamb tacos done with a yoghurt sauce, steamed pork buns, a house smoked salmon tartare, shrimp firecracker(truly addicting), potted chicken liver, a delicious sweet/sour beet/fennel salad, yet kept the ahi towers, but just made them smaller but now are a serving of 5!
Last night's corn soup was as delicious to eat as it was beautiful to look at.
Entrees include a succulent and superb-tasting free-range chicken breast, sensational short ribs served two ways(one being Korean), Delmonico steak, Hangar steak, Kurobota pork belly confit with honey-roasted peaches(apply topically!), as well as duck confit, a composed salmon salad with heirloom tomatoes, and as always a seared ahi that Andre and new chef Patrick Prager do sensationally. And then there is Andre's favorite Angus Burger, which competes with any in town, and medium rare is available!
Oh, forgot to mention - an oxtail-stuffed cabbage with crispy mandarin sweetbreads and sweet/sour sauce!
And Best of All - most entrees priced in high teens to low/mid twenties, while appetizers are all $10.50 or under.
Best addition of all - new beer list (Hello Diana), with a couple of trappist ales, Celebrator, a Pomme Lambic(apple) from Belgium, as well as two items from Stone Brewing Co., a Sam Smith's nut brown ale from Britain, and others from other countries.
The wine list is a work in progress but best of all is the use of Riedel glassware for both reds or whites or roses. Yeah!
American names such as Demetria, Dierberg, Paul Hobbs, Core, Stag's Leap Winery, Jordan and Silver Oak dot the list, while new additions are being made in the next week or two with some from Spain, South America, Southern France.
And they have a full-time bartender to make your favorite cocktails in the newly remodeled bar area - go in and say hello to David and have him make you a martini.
And for you dessert addicts - you might find the peach gallette enticing, or maybe the chocolate espresso souffle or the lemon tiramisu with mascarpone custard and mocha toffee crunch, or the brioche & brownie bread pudding with frangelico sauce.
As I said, truly turned everything upside down. Going back Thursday night to try some more dishes.
And speaking of Thursday night, I did go back last night, and had the beet salad and the short ribs. The gorgeous beet salad is comprised of both red and golden beets, as well as slices of grapefruit and orange, shaved fennel, riccota salata, purslane, etc. Very good yet light and healthy starter. The short ribs have always been a specialty here, and the two-way presentation includes a Korean version which was the more enjoyable one for me, yet both were wiped cleanly from the plate.
Companion, also a frequenter of Max, exclaimed about the new decor, commenting about how much more warm and inviting the place is including the extensive use of candles. New chairs and tables were duly noted. He ordered the market salad which included heirloom tomatoes, arugula, radicchio, and many of their usual companions - a perfect start when ordering the Delmonico steak! His steak was a large portion, accompanied by sauteed spinach and onion rings. He is very much the carne diner, and was quite sated with his selection.
For wine, the new Riedel glasses were ideal for the Stag's Leap Winery's 2005 Petite Sirah, which paired perfectly with both entrees.
His favorite dessert from his youth was on the menu so he had to have the butterscotch pudding, which he stated was a little underflavored, and the server reassured him that that issue had already been noted and was being amped up very soon, yet he still loved its execution. I luxuriated in the Kalamansi orange buddino, a baked sponge pudding with candied orange peel and vanilla bean ice cream.
I could eat that dessert every time.
Entrees were $22 amd $27, while appetizers were $8.50 and desserts were $6.50 and $7.00.
Actually, I am really familiar with all those beers, and glad Max has them.
Good to see he has a good basic list, but I hope he takes initiative to add some more interesting imports an microbrews to his lists. Every place, in my mind, should have a bottle of Utopias, which, due to it's qualities, can be kept after opening as a fine port or spirit.
A good belgian list, of course, is thankfully becoming de riguer for a good restaurateur, but there is so much out there! Heck, Japan is now finally putting out some very interesting beers, and the english have a nice range of stuff to tip back.
I hope he walks down the street to Bonyard to see what Aaron has- and maybe take a few notes!
heck, if he has a stellar beer list, and stellar food, the many hungry, high tab paying beer geeks from around SO Cal will come a running. good beer lists and good food in the same place are a rarity!
Sounds like i need to make a visit to MAx!
With the beers selling fairly well, given the first few days after opening, I sense his thoughts that he might get into modifying the list per your thoughts. What is not selling will be replaced with other varieties, yet a bit early to tell which is which. At this moment, it is still about making sure the food is of the highest quality.
He has met with Aaron at the Boneyard yet he has a major problem - not enough square feet to accommodate everything he really would like to have. You do not want to see his wine storage area, as an example!!!
"Oh, forgot to mention - an oxtail-stuffed cabbage with crispy mandarin sweetbreads and sweet/sour sauce!"
How can I not make a trip over there now to try it out...mmm, I'm a sucker for sweetbreads!
Have you noticed that there is a "tatertot" on the boards? Let's hope no one thinks that's me...cuz, tatertotsROCK!
Thanks for the heads-up...are they open for lunch?
Do they still have the little bar?
I'm actually gonna hit Oinkster after my 3pm class...BURGER, yum.
they are not open at present for lunch, but story has it that they will be doing lunch come fall some time. No sure thing yet, though.
Yes, the bar in back has been enlarged slightly, redecorated, and Davee, not my previously stated David, is the bartender. He knows his drinks and is really nice. Come on in, get a beer, a glass of vino or have him make you a specialty martini, or beverage of choice.
Gee, a burger late afternoon, with a glass of wine, I hope!
I can't wait to cruise on over to the bar and have a nice glass of wine outta a nice glass.
As for the burger, Oinkster burger loves Stella and with fries, at happy hour it's only 7 bucks!!! Yee-ha!...mmm, and pickles...however, I am now being persuaded to have a mai tai at a new place across the street from my studio...gotta support the neighborhood...but I really want a burger...I have 16 miles of kayaking to do tomorrow so I need some endurance fuel.
So, will I like the sweetbreat thingie as much as the sweetbreads at Bashan or will it be an apples/oranges type o thing?
Haven't tried the sweetbreads at Bashan, but will attest that Andre's sweetbread are some of the best I've every tasted. But, let's not forget the savoy cabbage stuffed with oxtail either, both complete each other very well. Now, though, I feel like I should try the sweetbreads at Bashan, just to compare.