Written on: 03/04/2007 by paradise (27 reviews written)
Delicious cuisine, nicely decorated, good friendly service without being over bearing.
Looking for an off-street car parking space can be a little difficult during lunchtimes Mon-Sat.
Mothering Sunday, March 2007
It's always interesting to compare one's expectations with reality where eating out is concerned. More often than not, reality is not as you would expect. But reality is was you get from eating at Max's Italian Bistro in Clifton, Bristol.
As Mothering Sunday was coming up, I jumped at the invitation not to cook. Having sourced the internet for somewhere different to eat in Bristol, I came across a couple of independent reviews that raved about Max's Italian Bistro. I must admit, I've never been a huge fan of Italian cuisine, all those pizzas, lasagnes and spaghetti Bolognese, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sample menu found on Max's website, (www.maxsitalianbistro.co.uk ), so my husband and I decided to give it a try.
Max's Bistro is situated just off the busy Whiteladies Road in Bristol's high-brow Clifton area, (full address and details below). The 35-cover restaurant has simple, stylish, contemporary d cor and I would think it would have a very romantic atmosphere in the evening. Suitable for small parties, or romantic meals for two, it offers a very welcome change from the abundance of Bristol's crowded restaurants.
Max and his staff are very welcoming. His chef obviously has a love for food and Italian cuisine. High on Oscar's priority list is the use of fresh, seasonal produce that distinguishes the cuisine of Italy from the imitations so readily available. He and Max want people to savour Italian food which, by the way, is beautifully presented. Oscar's dishes arouse your culinary senses. The menu is very well put together, Italian with a hint of international influences; 'Italy with a twist' is how I would describe it.
As all meals are created from fresh, we were treated to an appetiser: deep-fried bread-crumbed cheesy risotto balls, with delicate chilli and herbs. Delicious and it certainly whetted our appetite for what lay ahead. The white wine a delicious, the Sauvignon was well chilled, although as we took our luncheon at a slow pace, an ice bucket would not have gone amiss. A good selection of wines to complement the entire menu were on offer, most very reasonably priced.
I find it's rare now-a-days to come across a menu from which it's hard to choose - but Max's will leave in somewhat of a dilemma and the desire to potentially return before you've even started! The starter I opted for was Gaberoni, (lightly pan-fried butterfly tiger prawns in breadcrumbs, with a homemade crab dip). Absolutely delicious, although I would personally would prefer the crab dip to be thicker (9/10). My husband's choice was, Anatra Affumicata, (sliced smoked duck with avocado and raspberry sauce). This, too, was delicious and contrary to my expectation, the avocado and raspberry complemented the duck exquisitely. Presentation again, very impressive, although my husband did felt the duck slices could be a little thicker, again personal preference, (9/10).
For the main course, I opted for Pasta Ittica, (pasta, mussels, clams, langoustine, scallop, chilli). I couldn't fault this dish; full of flavour, without being overpowering, and well presented (10/10). My husband chose the sea bass, which he thought was amongst the best he'd ever tasted. Very well presented, but the dish could have been served with an additional vegetables as the vegetable portion wasn't quite adequate for a growing man, hence (9/10).
Desserts followed. I chose the traditional homemade tiramisu (10/10); my husband the ice-cream with spices and port (10/10).
Over a cup of espresso we talked about the delicious meal we just had.
The emphasis is clearly on fresh, exciting dishes at a reasonable price considering fresh ingredients, esepcially the fish and seafood are used. It was so nice to have a relaxing meal without the feeling of being rushed; Max doesn't do second sittings, so we didn't feel at all guilty about setting our own (meandering) pace. Indeed, we spent nearly three-hours at this restaurant! It was a lovely culinary experience in simple, comfortable surroundings, and the service was exemplary. You'll get no busy-body waiting staff flapping your napkin across your lap the instant you sit and, when the time comes to leave, you'll depart with a definite desire to return. We certainly will. (And probably quite often!)
This review is independent and based on my own experience.