I announced several months ago that I would return with my cafe critiques once in a blue moon, so in light of the celestial skies my small clique of merrimakers decided to celebrate in style with a trip to Max's Seafood Cafe.
We were warmly welcomed by Michael, a charming young man whose historical knowledge of the restaurant delighted us between courses. John, our server, was prompt in his appearance and quite knowledgeable in his menu directives.
A friendly fellow placed a somewhat lackluster basket of bread before us and one of my few negative responses of the evening would have to be that a smashed, cold, half-loaf of generic luncheon bread has no place at my table or any other; I've seen nicer amuse-bouche at Olive Garden.
Our salads arrived in timely fashion and were almost satisfactory except for my companion's dressing which, he said, resembled balsamic marmalade. Unfortunate that the pale pink hothouse tomatoes seemed to have been imported from someplace other than New Jersey, home of the Jersey Tomato. Perhaps next visit we will simply walk down to our community garden, pick a Big Boy, and show the chef what it looks like.
Our entrees arrived and we were reminded why we loved Max's--succulent seafood and crisp, fresh vegetables grilled to perfection and plated perfectly! When one of my companions politely reported to our server that his pasta was not the one he had ordered, John immediately offered to return it to the kitchen. However, since we were all quite hungry my friend decided to tough it out and eat his cavatelli without further complaint.
Although we were all stuffed to the gills (pardon the pun), we asked to see the dessert plate. I chose the cheesecake (wonderful, light, and icy cold), but had a tiny taste of several other delectable delicacies, including a divine key lime pie which, John assured us, included limes flown in from Key West. I bit my tongue at that bit of knowledge, not wishing to embarrass anyone by asking if the tomatoes had accompanied the limes on the flight.
All in all, we enjoyed our visit enormously and your Miss Rita graded the evening, thus:
Ambience: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Plating: 4 out of 5 stars
Taste: 4 out of 5 stars
Value: Service for 4 individuals, including wine, cocktails, entrees, and desserts: about $250 plus gratuity, earning it the label of somewhat pricey but not outrageous.
For a truly elegant and enjoyable dining experience, Max's is hard to beat. Although those in walking distance may not be inclined to frequent Max's on a regular basis due to its upscale menu and pricing, its delightful presence in the southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area has earned it the reputation of being the Jewel of Gloucester City.
Well, Gentle Readers, that's all for now. If you know of a great place to eat in the Gloucester City, Audubon, Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Haddon Township, or Westville area please drop me a line!
Until next time, happy roving!