Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pasta rendezvous at Max

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The Feisty Foodie and I have "known" each other for a while now—years, even—but not in real life. Despite having an alarming number of friends in common (thank you, Facebook), Yvo and I never met in person until several weeks ago, when we finally got around to having dinner. Having read one another's personal blogs before either of us had even started food blogs, it was interesting to talk to someone new while feeling like I already knew the person.

I suggested Max because I was still in the mood for warm, comforting grub, and I remembered really enjoying the food at this Italian restaurant. The last time I had come was for a birthday dinner a few years ago, and while the long wait, indifferent service, and cramped tables were annoying, it had been worth it for the fresh pasta dishes, which were delicious and affordable. I was curious to see if the place had changed or remained the same since.

It was still cramped, but there was no wait (it was Monday night, on the early side of dinner service). As we crammed ourselves into a tiny table space in the back and perused the menu, I was excited when Yvo mentioned eyeing the liver toasts as an appetizer, since most people I eat with turn their noses up on the stuff. They came out hot, though, which made the liver spread seem kind of…dank. I ate them, but I wasn't that enthused.
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Despite its unappetizing appearance in this photo, the spaghetti alla chitarra was good, a rich, salty lamb ragu over fresh pasta. The soft, chewy strands began to clump together as it cooled down, though, and by the end it was more like I was pulling off bits of spaghetti to wrap around my fork. I probably should have tossed it thoroughly with the sauce before I began eating.

I do feel like I would have liked it even more if I could have seen more clearly what I was eating. Not just for the sake of photography (which as you can see, was shite) but because for me the appearance and presentation of food is part of the enjoyment. The place was romantic, yes, but come on. Our meal practically required flashlights.
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Yvo had started smiling as the server went through the dessert list, and after he left she explained why. Panna cotta and tiramisu were her two favorite desserts, she said, and now they were both on the menu! So of course we ordered both.

I liked the tiramisu; it was dense and full of cake/lady fingers, which for me was a good thing, although I believe Yvo felt otherwise. The panna cotta struck me as being too milky and sticky, though I'm not really sure what a proper panna cotta is supposed to be like. The portions were large, but they also each cost around eight bucks, which makes it just okay, I guess.

My experience this time has made me cool my affections a little bit toward the place, but not because Max has gone down in quality. Actually, it seems just the same, but now I realize that it's an Italian place on the decent end of a lot of other, similar Italian places. It is cozy and romantic, though, so it's a good choice if you're looking for a date spot.

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