There’s no need to ask the 1980s idiom Where’s the Beef?, at least in terms of substantial burgers, (not American politics), because Max Burger, one of the many darlings of Hartford’s Max Restaurant Group, continues to offer one of the beefiest, juiciest, tastiest burgers around. And, although they’ve been a hot spot for said burgers for nearly ten years, they’ve turned things up a notch and have just rolled out a new menu.
With a tagline like “Everything From Scratch,” Max Burger stands behind its words using high quality, fresher than fresh products like Brandt Beef, known for its sustainable practices; and, the Hartford Baking Company, known as the hometown bakery. With such superior ingredients serving as the foundations of each bite, it is not the place for a calm, quiet dressed up evening. Tasty burger juices will splatter, the right part of the bread will crackle, and the soft, pillowy interior, will elicit “oohs” and “aahs.”
How do you top already top scores? With high marks for the last several years from longtime locals to New York Times food critics, you don’t fix what ain’t broke, right? But, you can plump up the faves, and add a few new items that have been blowing up the food scene all over the place; hmmm, like avocado toast and cauliflower anything. Who knew such a cruciferous veg would be all the rage?
In the case of Max Burger, its sweet and tangy new General Tso Cauliflower appetizer, with a sprinkle of sesame, scallion and peanuts, which pays homage to the original General, is already hugely popular. Or, if you’re one of the one million who follow the #avocadotoast tag on instagram, you’ll want to taste and snag a shot of MB’s; it is luscious and delicious, and offers every texture you’d want out of a green bite of goodness.
Max Burger Regulars, there’s no need to fret. The candied bacon lollipops still reign supreme on the starter menu with their finger-lickin salty sweet dramatic display of deliciousness. BUT, they may have to share the popularity corner with its POUTINE, one of the other new items on the menu: Basically, when you gather potato + cheese + gravy + pork belly, you may just have to call it a day. You’ve won the flavor jackpot. If the poutine isn’t enough, in terms of ooey gooey, cheesy yums, the mac & cheese, eh hem, the Roadhouse MC, will tug at your heart strings. Pulled pork, mac n’ cheese, caramelized onions, poblanos, and barbeque sauce. Aren’t the food groups covered? I think that’s a yes.
Okay. Now I get to tell you about the burgers….Even biting into the beef on its own, is just something. You know IT when you taste it, and they really are IT: fresh, juicy, big; really all what a good burger should be. I won’t run down every one because you must try for yourself, and there seem to be as many burgers (even non-beefy ones), as there are stars in the sky, but the ones who stole the show for me were: 1) the French Onion Burger, an open-faced to-do swimming in beef au jus and a melty sharp gruyere with a mountain of caramelized onions; and 2) the Steak House Burger made from Sanchoku Farms wagyu beef, cheddar fondue, candied bacon, and black pepper aioli. Did I say cheddar fondue? And of course, they wouldn’t be Max Burger if they didn’t go the extra mile, so, they pile on the gorgeous, golden hand-cut fries and housemade pickles with every plate.
If you’re looking for lighter, but no less bold fare, remember the Avo Toast, and there’s some really great new salads too, like the Asian Vegetable, served with or without a generous, tender Ahi Tuna filet; or, the Santa Fe, piled high with black beans, cumin infused sweet potatoes, and a honey-lime vinaigrette. And, tacos. Max Burger now has tacos: Carne Asada, Crispy Buttermilk Chicken, and a blackened Mahi with a vibrant pineapple salsa. That was the one for me.
The new (and old) menu at Max Burger is an impressive display of robust flavor and variety. I didn’t even tell you about the sweet treats like the “take me back to my childhood” ice cream sandwich, or the tall, creamy milkshakes, because….I’m just too full
When stepping inside the Max Burger you’re stepping inside a bit of the western frontier: there’s lots of wood, longhorn skulls and meat charts on the walls, and a hefty bar with a drink list as hearty as its food menu. They get pretty packed, even on a weeknight, so, it couldn’t hurt to call ahead. Then, grab your flannel and and a pair stretchy (mom) jeans, a fun group of pals, and don’t look back.
124 LaSalle Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Note: There’s also a Max Burger in Longmeadow, MA.