Even though the newest addition to the Max’s Restaurant Group has been open a full year, it has taken us that long to give it a try. True lovers of Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford, my husband and I, were excited to try Max Fish in Glastonbury. A fan of most of the Max’s restaurants, we are rarely disappointed with a meal. Unfortunately, I have to report this was not the case with Max Fish…we were disappointed.
Decorated with floor to ceiling white tile, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a classy fish market on the San Fransisco pier. The white tile certainly says clean and simple, but it lacks the warmth and comfort you also expect when dining out. With a smaller main dining room, we felt cramped at small tables, seated relatively close to our fellow diners. I am always a fan of intimate dining, but the sterile feel of the restaurant made the close quarters annoying rather than cozy.
Understanding the restaurant is new, I would be inclined to give the wait staff the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, I feel a year is long enough to work out all the kinks and properly train the staff. I also hold the Max’s staff to a higher standard because I know service is a priority at all Max restaurants. We enjoy our meals so much at Oyster Bar, Downtown, and Amore’s (all Max’s Restaurants) partly because of the experienced and efficient staff. At Fish, our waiter was slow to approach us initially and after drink orders we did not see him for the next fifteen minutes. Once dinner was served by fellow staff, he was hard to track down for the rest of the evening until the bill arrived. He was courteous, but unfortunately did not go out of his way to make us feel important, or even cared for.
We started with the Tuna Taco’s (originally an Oyster Bar staple) which were wonderful as always. We were hoping this appetizer would make the jump from one restaurant to the other. A crisp wanton “taco shell” is filled with sushi rice, ahi tuna, wasabi cream and served with a side of mango salsa. Each taco is about three bites and each bite always contains that perfect mix of sweet, salty, crunch and creamy. The tuna is always of the best quality and we have never been disappointed with this dish. (And yes, we do order it EVERY time we go). My main dish was a wasabi-pea encrusted tuna, served with a cold soba noddle salad. Again, the quality of the fish was superb, but the “encrusted” really meant a few crunchy bites hear and there. I did not taste any of the wasabi peas and was disappointed that the crust lacked any flavor and a slightly off texture. The noddle salad was probably the best component of the dish. Well seasoned and light, the salad was a nice Asian compliment without overwhelming the fish. My husband tried the daily special of John Dory, served with wild mushrooms, leeks, and truffle butter. Expecting a wildly rich dish packed with flavor, again we were disappointed with a lack-luster taste. Once again, nothing wrong, but nothing note worthy either. Certainly this was not the same reaction we have when we try our favorite (and new) dishes at Max’s Oyster Bar.
All in all, the dinner was a let down. We will be sticking to Oyster Bar from now on when we are looking for a fantastic seafood meal. I hear that the Max’s chain is planning on opening a new “burger” installment in West Hartford later this year. Let’s hope they can wow us next time.