The story of going to Max’s on Broad (which isn’t on Broad St.; it’s off of Broad) begins with a friend asking if I had been. People assume I’ve been to every brunch place Richmond has to offer since I write for this blog, but, readers, time is finite, and ATOB isn’t a nonprofit, so I have to self-fund these brunch adventures.
So, friend who asked, no, I haven’t been.
My friend then told me I had to go, which is every friend’s inevitable advice about any restaurant they bring up in conversation. “They’re a Belgian place,” my friend explained.
Plot development: My friend Meredith was visiting that weekend, and she had lived in Belgium for a year. She also is dating a Belgian man who I’m hoping she’ll marry so I can be her man of honor (and write several blog posts about that!). (This is also the same friend who once took me to hot yoga.)
Once Meredith heard that Max’s was a Belgian eatery, there really wasn’t much more discussion other than were we going to shower before we went. My advice: do shower. Max’s skews toward the finer side of life. (They have complimentary valet parking.) I felt a tad under-dressed in shorts and flipflops (this was back on that 70-degree weekend in December).
We made a reservation before we arrived, which I recommend. Admittedly, we made the reservation online less than an hour beforehand, but still. It was a busy place. We also made the “mistake” of asking for a table for five, but our fifth person dropped out (aka never answered their phone). We showed up and told the maître d’ (I wanted to use that word!) that we, unfortunately, were only going to be a table of four today.
The maître d’ blinked at me. “We only have that table for four, and it’s been reserved,” she began.
What about the table for five we reserved? I thought, but assumed I didn’t need to vocalize this logic. However, Meredith did vocalize this thought: “We can just take our table for five?”
The maître d’ paused. “I guess that will work.”
Lesson: Be accurate in your guest count when making a reservation.
Max’s is gorgeous. It’s an Instagram photo op waiting to happen. We got seated on the second floor, which reminded me of the dining room aboard the Titanic in the 1997 film.
Meredith fangirled over the menu. Among things she pointed out, they had beet carpaccio, which she had never seen outside of Belgium, and they had poutine ($9) – a dish consisting of French fries buried in cheese curds, pork belly, and gravy. This is where Meredith also informed me the French did not invent French fries: the Belgians did. However, Belgians speak French, so idiot Americans got confused when they saw some Belgians speaking French and frying potatoes in the WWI trenches.
I also learned that pork belly is not a gelatinous organ delivered on a plate; it’s a cut up, cooked meat. When Meredith ordered the poutine (she did not order the beet carpaccio), I was imagining a stomach filled with fries and cheese and my appetite left me.
My other friends ordered the smoked salmon benedict ($16) and a hamburger ($11). The latter I will not discuss because I don’t believe in hamburgers for brunch. And what did I order? A Belgian waffle, of course ($8)! And three eggs ($3) and sautéed spinach ($4) a la carte.
My one friend tried to order a latte, but our waitress told us they were out of milk. We didn’t understand this because don’t you need milk for omelets? And everything else on your menu? Then we decided they must be running low and rationing.
Either way, Max’s does not offer flavors for its coffee. I was embarrassed when my friend asked about this. This obviously wasn’t Starbucks.
While we waited for our food, my friends discussed what they had to discuss in order to be featured on this blog. I told them the focus of this post would be more on the food, not the people, which greatly upset them. Liz, who is also my roommate, has demanded she be profiled in an upcoming piece, so stay tuned for that.
Meredith also ordered French onion soup with her poutine. It arrived first. Well, technically second. I got my syrup before anything, which was a tease, because I still had to wait for my waffle.
Now I’m not a big onion soup fan, but let me tell you, the melted cheese on the side of the bowl was the best. Our waitress brought us over mini chocolate muffins, too. This was probably a response to me manhandling Meredith’s soup bowl to peel off melted cheese like a vagrant. These muffins were mm-mm-good. How can you complain about free chocolate pastries?
My waffle smelled divine once it appeared. Like, Max’s should sell Belgian waffle candles. I would buy them! However, it was not as tasty as the smell or as fluffy as hoped. This wasn’t a bad waffle, I should qualify, but it was not the best waffle. But the smell was.
My eggs, however, were on point. For ordering three eggs, I wasn’t expecting much, but they were fluffy and substantial. They probably had some of that rationed milk thrown in. I could not reproduce these eggs at home. And the spinach: mm-mm-good!
The poutine was very salty. Meredith let me pick at it (okay, finish it for her). It’s definitely worth a try, though I would never order it for my whole meal. It’s a lot.
The salmon egg benedict was great, too. I’m not an egg benedict person, but my friend didn’t finish one half of the muffin so I got to take it home, and I was pleased.
Finally, my friend who ordered the hamburger also ordered crème brulee. We all sampled this at the end because they brought out four spoons as they should have even though I’m not sure my friend ordered it for the table. Oh well. I’ve only had crème brulee twice in my life, and it is not my lifeblood. However, we all agreed this crème brulee was a lot more like pudding than most.
I will definitely be returning to Max’s to try other things off the menu. Maybe next time I’ll get the beets? Probably not, but it’s worth a consideration.