Sunday, October 27, 2013
Max's Harvest, Delray Beach, Florida
The best perk of traveling out of town for business is the opportunity to discover great new food finds. Last month's meeting for the National Kidney Foundation of Florida brought me back to the Palm Beaches. And, in the south part of the county is the city of Delray Beach. With an attractive rejuvenated downtown area, Delray is now home to a number of new and upcoming hot spots and eateries. One such place is Max's Harvest, located in the Pineapple Grove district. Self-proclaimed as a "farm-to-fork" restaurant, Max's Harvest follows the latest wave of restaurants who promise seasonal dishes whose ingredients are sourced entirely from local organic farmers. Fortuitous for me, since I have recently pledge to move toward cleaner eating. No matter what your political persuasion, you've got to admit that clean, home-grown, all-natural food sounds a lot more delectable than processed foods chock full of preservatives. And delicious, well-prepared dishes are exactly what I like to enjoy on a rare date night with my better half away from home.
I don't know from firsthand experience, but Pineapple Grove appears to be a popular weekend spot for the 20s to 40s crowd. Free parking is scarce, but luckily valet parking is available for those who are willing to splurge. Those who find themselves parking blocks away can take advantage of the free Delray Downtowner electric cart shuttle. On cooler nights, the front patio would probably be a nice place to both dine and people watch. But if you find the patio too cold or even too warm, the open kitchen in the front dining room is bound to provide some table-side entertainment. While I would have preferred to see the action, our table was in the back dining room. That would have been fine but for being under an air vent. The lesson here? Always bring a sweater. Thankfully, even if a little cool air doesn't spoil my appreciation for good food.
The menu at Max's is a la carte, but any of the items can also be ordered as a part of a 3 course prix fixe option. For our dinner, my husband opted for a steak and I for seared scallops with farro. But all that was preceded by smoked Hereford bacon, truffle fries and burrata. Had we known that the appetizers would be so tasty and so filling, we might have waived off on the entrees. The housemade burrata was amazing ... so cold and fresh, paired with this great tomato relish and served with bruschetta topped with a mash of English peas and mint. Loved it. The bacon and truffle fries, amazing too. Thank goodness those are menu regulars because I will definitely have to have those again. Great flavors, cooked just right and paired perfectly with garlic aioli.
We honestly had to force ourselves not to finish the first courses just so we could have room for the rest. And it's a good thing we did because those second courses were just as good. My pan seared scallops were so good, served on a bed of farro and potato puree. The flavors were rich. My only criticism? My plate could have used some acid, just to offset those hearty flavors. Thankfully, my husband's steak came with an arugala salad dressed lightly in a vinaigrette - just enough acid to help me push through the rest of my dish. And that I needed to do because my third course - dessert - was still yet to come.
And, as it should be, dessert was definitely the piece de resistance. So simple but so very good. Sugared doughnuts with creme anglaise and raspberry compote. Warm, airy and sweet. What's not to love?
How much we spent: $$$$ For the two of us, with three courses and no alcohol, we spent $150, tip included. Yes, it's pricey, but we ordered A LOT of food. A spending conscious diner would likely spend less. But if I were you, I wouldn't skip dessert!
My rating: 4 1/2 spoons. Max's Harvest is a restaurant that I will be recommending to anyone who has the pleasure of visiting Delray Beach. Great farm-fresh local food, well made and delicious. I'll definitely go back.