As a loyal patron of Plan B and a lover of their gourmet burgers, I was very leery when I heard the Max Restaurant group’s plans to expand into the world of burgers. Although the new addition has been open for over 6 months, my husband and I hesitated. We just couldn’t pull ourselves away from Plan B (we felt like we would be cheating if we gave the competition a try). But we finally caved and went to Max Burger for lunch the other day.
The atmospheres of the two restaurants are drastically different. Plan B is very edgy – think urban loft, with leather booths, mirrors, industrial lighting, and tight quarters (you get to know your fellow diners well). You are always guaranteed a wait on a weekend night, but the bar is lively and the beer flows freely. Max is certainly more refined, and you know you are eating in the center of West Hartford, as opposed to Park Rd (where Plan B is located). Max’s is much more spacious, again lots of black leather, but here it is paired with birch-like wood, and metal accents – very upscale Montana hunting lodge.
So now on to the beer, which is almost as important as the burgers (my husband may argue it’s more so…). Plan B is all about micro breweries and craft beer. With about 15 draft beers that are changing constantly, many of which are small craft beers, along with over 50 bottled beers, Plan B has plenty of variety. Plan B does have a full bar, however don’t expect very experienced bar tenders – they don’t love to mix drinks and can get confused easily with names of drinks. For instance, I found its better to tell them grapefruit juice and vodka, rather than to ask for a greyhound. This stays with their M.O. – no frills – just really good burgers and really good beer. Max plays it safer on the beer front. With only a couple of drafts, showcasing a more generic variety and only 15 or so bottle options, beer is certainly not as strong a focus in the restaurant. They do, however, offer cocktails, mixed drinks, milkshakes and a wonderful selections of “adult milkshakes” (milkshakes made with a varieties of liquors). Again, this is not surprising and stays with Max’s theme. They are clearly catering to a different crowd and therefore catering to a different drinkers’ pallets. (more…)