Max’s Seafood Cafe has been a neighborhood fixture in Gloucester City ever since we first came to New Jersey some 37 years ago. My wife, Kathy, and I have been there many times but it’s been a few years since our last visit. It’s a touch more upscale than we remember but it still has that local “feel” that long-standing neighborhood establishments convey. Our Friday night dining group converged there this past Friday night. I would have preferred a BYOB but I was still anxious to see what the place had to offer. For starters they offered fresh bread and butter and most of us had a beer to begin the evening. I chose a Smythwick’s which they had on tap. They have quite an extensive list of domestic, imported and Belgian beers.
I ordered the Dungeness Crab Dip which came a a large cup of”warm cvrabmeat-cream cheese dip with toasted Pita triangles.” There was plenty of dip and a generous supply of pita triangles. The only problem was that the crab dip was virtually tasteless. I’m not quite sure how you manage to put crabmeat and cream cheese together and totally remove all taste but, they did it. I had given a portion to my wife and she agreed with my observations. Although not pictured, I would be remiss in not mentioning that the blue cheese dressing on the salads was equally tasteless and did nothing to enhance the fresh ingredients evident in the salad. Why would you dilute blue cheese dressing??
I was in my “Creole is King” mood and I opted for the “New Orleans Jambalaya, with grilled chicken, baby shrimp, andouille, peppers, okra and risotto. It wasn’t bad and my only complaint, which other might consider a good thing, was that the dish was overpowered by the baby shrimp. Not so much chicken or andouille but more shrimp than even Bubba Gump could handle. The flavor was good, though and it was a nice size portion.
Joe B. ordered the Pan-Seared Jumbo Scallops, canelinni beans, spinach, roasted red peppers and balsamic syrup. He thought it was very good and the scallops were done to perfection.
Sue ordered the Fried Flounder and mixed veggies while Carol had the Broiled Jumbo Shrimp Stuffed with Lump Crabmeat, served with a fresh lemon-butter sauce and accompanied with a serving of cole slaw.
My wife Kathy, and Barb T. were elated to find Fried Select Oysters with cocktail and tartar sauce and a helping of cole slaw. Having never developed a taste for oysters I am always surprised when someone else finds them so enjoyable.
Tom T.. had no trouble finding what he wanted on the extensive seafood menu. He chose the Max’s Crab Cakes, two 4 ounce cakes in a roasted red pepper sauce with summer veggies. The crab cakes looked nice and full but he still kept eyeing Carol’s stuffed shrimp in an effort to calculate whether she had more crabcake stuffed into her shrimp than he did in his entire order.
Most of the entrees (mine excluded) came with a plate of Sweet Potato Fries. I did get to try a few and I am happy to report that they were outstanding; hot and crisp on the outside with lots of sweet potato filling. This is an item more places should add to their menus. Overall, I would have preferred a BYOB as I miss my opportunities for wine on a Friday evening. I’d give Max’s a C+ or maybe even a B-.