Max Fish

So last night I ate possibly the best piece of fish ever – except maybe for a few times when I was living in Old Saybrook and the critters came right out of the water. Yesterday was Larry’s birthday, and I took him to Max Fish in Glastonbury. The Max chain is renowned in northern Connecticut. The original, Max Downtown in Hartford has been serving the insurance executive crowd (what’s left of it) for years. Until the state banned smoking in restaurants, the place had a cigar room that wasn’t quite sealed off enough to keep the odors from wafting into the dining rooms. On my one visit I thought the food overpriced and overly rich. My only stop at Trumball Kitchen for someone’s birthday luncheon, also in downtown, left the impression of a too-loud, not very comfortable place with decent food but not good enough to send me back there.

Max Amore, which is in the same shopping mall as Max Fish, serves excellent northern Italian cuisine. Its lunches are particularly delectible, though the portions border on excessive. I’ve never been to Max a Mia in Avon or to Max’s Tavern at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., though we’ve been talking about going there for a while.

Until now Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford was our favorite. It had some of the drawbacks of the Hartford venues – loud and crowded with insufficient parking opportunities. But it also has great food. On one of the first trips a group of us ordered a huge appetizer tray, not sure if it was the high rise or the sky scraper. It came with oysters, clams, crab claws, crawfish (the rest of the folks left those to me), and shrimp. Our most recent visit followed the performance of Deb’s summer school students. See July 24 post “Singing and Dancing With Frida and Diego.” That time the restaurant was disappointingly out of Connecticut oysters, but I had a smaller bivalve in Max’s Bloody Oyster, a bloody mary martini garnished with an oyster and lots of black pepper. The attraction during that visit was a special menu featuring local foods. Those items seem to have disappeared with the arrival of cold weather, but the fish shines on.

Max’s Fish, though, has topped the others. First, it’s much quieter. Our waitress said it was smaller than the Oyster Bar, but it still looked fairly huge. There were two rooms with white linen table cloths for elelgant dining if one makes a reservation. Walk-ins are consigned to a bar area or a section that resembles a sushi bar set up but with linen. It wasn’t as crowded as the Oyster Bar, either, maybe because we went on a Tuesday or maybe because the economy is tanking. But the folks who came in looked like they were all in a festive mood, celebrating birthdays and what-not. While we were waiting to order, a server walked by with a globe, probably two quarts, filled with ice cream, bananas, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and I don’t know what all else. I said, “I hope that’s for two people.” He heard me and smiled and said, “No, miss, just for one.” Larry and I both groaned.

Larry wanted steamers but they’re not in season, our waitress said, so he started with the six biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen. I refuse to use the oxymoron “jumbo shrimp.” And oh, happy day, I had four Connecticut Blue Point oysters. Sweet, plump, and perfectly balanced with a terrific hot sauce and a mignonette sauce made with grapefruit instead of vinegar. Heavenly! Then came dinner. Larry ordered Atlantic salmon with risotto and a port wine reduction, which he said was “different” but good. I had lemon crusted sole served with artichokes, roasted tomatoes, and baby onions. Most of the time when I order sole it arrives overcooked, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. This baby was perfect, with delicious accompaniments in just the right size portion. I finished the entire meal without feeling as though I needed to carry my stomach out in a wheel barrow. And no, we did not order dessert. Altogether a memorable birthday.

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One Response to “Max Fish”

  1. Blue Points Rock « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] Points Rock By lizr128 Max Fish ( “Max Fish”) and Priam Vineyards created a perfect antidote to the winter blues Monday night with a wine and […]

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