There was some speculation after Jonathan Jones left Max’s Wine Dive for Beaver’s last year that Max’s was done. The venerable restaurant shot out of the gate as the front runner for fun when it first opened and won rave reviews for its large portions of updated comfort food. Could it maintain its flava’?
I was pleased to discover last night that Max’s is still going strong under chef Michael dei Maggi. The new-look menu features several of the old favorites: gator bites, braised short ribs, kobe beef burger, truffled “max and cheese,” and the ever-famous haute dog. It is the additions, though, that speak volumes. While the escargot seems out of place, the remaining items flow smoothly into the Max’s niche: kicked-up comfort.
We started with the warm spinach salad, served with a smooth balsamic vinaigrette and loaded with autumn fruits like prunes, raisins, and huckleberries. That’s right, huckleberries. Afterwards, the fried egg sandwich arrived perfectly cooked, lidded with bacon, and topped with bibb lettuce and fresh tomatoes. The sandwich comes with mind-bendingly thin potato chips sprinkled with Parmesan and the slightest bit of truffle oil.
The half-order of chicken and dumplings was plenty for two of us. The dish had all of the traditional creamy goodness, but adds green beans, turnips, and wild mushrooms to give it a bit more texture. Delicious.
I don’t know what has kept me away from Max’s, but I’m glad I’ve rediscovered. It’s a down-to-Earth spot with a snappy atmosphere. Plus, hearty food seems like a necessity, given the frigid temps. Better get there before it soars back up to 80 next week. [sigh]
Max’s Wine Dive – 4720 Washington (at Shepherd)