I wrote about Max’s Grille at Mizner Park in Boca Raton previously and still stand by my comments that it’s a restaurant that serves up some solid, classic American comfort food.
However, things may be slipping.
I’m going to chalk this last visit up to a one-off experience and hope that the combination of coming off a busy holiday weekend and eating at the street-side bar was what triggered a chain of events that left me wondering if something else is going on at this Boca mainstay.
We arrived around 8:30pm Monday night, peered inside the restaurant to see whether or not we wanted to eat in or out. The inside bar had only four people seated at it, while the outdoor bar had the only two open seats which we grabbed. There were a moderate amount of tables taken inside and out, so the restaurant was busy, but not packed.
We sat at the bar a good three to four minutes before one of the bartenders came over to take our drink orders and present us with the menu along with the list of the night’s features. A beer I ordered was not stocked outside, so he had to go in to get it. In the meantime, another bartender came over and said, “is someone helping you?” When I replied in the affirmative, she left the bar only to re-emerge a short time later to take our food order.
One of the evening’s specials was “Sunday Gravy” a hearty meat sauce full of big chunks of beef served over spaghetti pasta with a meatball and ricotta. I ordered this while my husband went with an item off the regular menu, grilled salmon.
Let’s dish on the gravy first. The spaghetti was overcooked and mushy, a stark contrast to how it should be served – al dente. The entire dish arrived luke-warm with some of the meat not even what one would consider warm. The meatball it came with was very firm and refrigerator cold. If everything was served hot and the pasta cooked properly, this could have been an amazing dish as the sauce was very good and contained a hearty portion of meat.
Next up was the grilled salmon. The portion size was very good and it was served over a bed of white rice and vegetables. For a salmon dish, it was average. Nothing to brag about, yet nothing to complain about either.
Throughout dinner, service was pretty much non-existent. Both bartenders were busy socializing with friends and regulars than checking on guests. When we were finished with our meal, it took a good amount of time for one of them to come over and clear the dishes. I had to flag one down to come over, ask for the rest of the salmon to be packaged to go and give them my credit card so we can cash out.
The salmon never made it into a to-go box and rather than wait any longer to figure out the mystery of the disappearing fish, we left.
I have dined many times at Max’s – inside and out – which is why I preferenced this by saying I’m hoping this was a one-off. With the busy season underway here in South Florida, restaurants should be already at the top of their game and ready to please the hard-to-please snowbirds who have started their southerly migration.
I’ve seen first hand how snowbirds can get their napkins in a bunch over small things like a lemon seed in a glass of water, having an experience here like we had, would not fly with them.
For a restaurant like Max’s in the heart of Boca Raton, I would expect better… especially since I know they can, and do, do better than this.