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Mar 23, 2011 08:11 AM

Our dinner at Max's Oyster Bar

This past weekend, business took us to West Hartford. After searching these boards for suggestions, I decided to make reservations at Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford Centre, which, surprisingly, has not been widely posted. In fact, on some other sites, reviewers raised issues about service (citing attitude) and the quality of the food. Some said it was overpriced.

Well, I have to say we had one of our most enjoyable experiences ever. My wife decided to base her dinner on two selections from the app menu, and ordered the fried oysters as a first course, to be followed by mussels. She never got the mussels--she was so overwhelmed by the perfection of the oysters, she reordered them to be served as her main. I had the baked oysters, which were also sensational. My main course was a special of barramunde in a Mediterranean sauce, which was a light red sauce with a complex set of flavors with a background of anise. Fish was a huge filet , impeccably fresh, served with 4 or 5 cherrystone clams on the side.

Big wine list--no real cheapos, but the bottle of Franciscan cab I ordered was an excellent wine, and, considering the quality, a good value.

Nothing on the dessert menu really called out to me, I got the molten-chocolate filled beignets, which were OK, but a little austere on their own--if I were the pastry chef, I would have served them with some whipped cream on the side, which would have made them sing.

Our server was excellent--personable and attentive. No service issues where we were concerned.

I would unequivocally recommend Max's Oyster Bar, and we both agreed it is someplace we'd like to return to. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars--if the dessert had been better executed, it would have been 5.

Max's Oyster Bar
964 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, CT 06107

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  1. People in the Hartford area either love Max restaurants or hate them. We're in the former camp, being great fans. Max Fish is our favorite restaurant. We have never observed any semblance of "attitude" from the staff, rather, they, bartenders, wait staff, and managers have been open, friendly, and approachable. Last Friday, enjoying the 70+ weather we had -- it's mid-30's today -- we ate at the Fish outside. The manager went to every table, introducing himself and inquiring about the quality of the lunches. I thnk the "attitude" some report is an inferred "attitude." Max places are higher end, and have a price model consistent with that. I thnk the "attitude" comes from those that find themselves uncomfortable with the environment and perhaps a little taken aback at the $$s. They are somewhat embarrased and react by dissing the restaurants. ANyway, I'm an engineer, so what do I know about psychology. We've never had a bad experience there. Cheers.

    Max Fish
    110 Glastonbury Blvd, Glastonbury, CT 06033

    1 Reply
    1. re: sbxstr

      My sentiments exactly sbxstr. Plus they are open Mondays!

    2. I wished you had talked more about the fried oysters. They are seasonal things after all, but I had them in late November a year + ago, and they were so completely dried out that they were almost unecognizable. It was at lunch on a Saturday and there were not very many people there at the time. I would have said something, however since we had a guest my DW told me it would upset the meal. Fried oysters are my absolute favorite food. I will order them wherever they are available and I have had them from the sublime to the dismal. These were (given the name of the restaurant) ironically among the worst. Actually I believe our guest found the coating on her fried fish to be thick enough that she left most of it on her plate. My wife, on the other hand had a fish taco that was excellent.

      1. Max's Oyster Bar has always been one of my go to places in West Hartford Center. They really shouldn't draw any criticism. Folks on Yelp tend to be more critical of pricier places, but Max O is not really that pricey. Their quality is consistent. Most of the servers have been there for a long while and are very professional. One thing that really sets them apart is they effort to find fresh, unusual fish. In season they make an effort to be locavores too, supporting local farms.

        You are right, they are a solid 4 star restaurant. I am rather New York-centric and wouldn't give 5 stars to any CT restaurant perhaps outside of On20 so Max O in my book is about as good as it gets around here.

        Max's Oyster Bar
        964 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, CT 06107