By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW With the recent influx of burger joints in Western Massachusetts, Max Burger figures to be a cut above the rest by offering a higher quality product with a terrific drink selection to accompany it.
The new restaurant, located in the Longmeadow Shops, has made a great impression by making a concerted effort to be a part of the community.
Max Burger hosted its grand opening celebration on July 20, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Longmeadow Educational Endowment Fund. They packed the house and raised $9,000 for the fund that offers grants for school programs that wouldn't normally be funded through the school budget.
That kind of commitment to the community, along with delicious food and drink makes Max Burger a home run.
While the open house did not offer patrons, such as this reporter, the opportunity to order full meals, it did allow for the sampling of several different menu items, ranging from appetizers and sides to miniature versions of their full-size signature burgers.
Of the side items and appetizers, three unusual items spicy tuna salsa cruda, eggplant fries and pickle wrapped pastrami turned out to be solid hits. The pickle wrapped pastrami, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a pickle stuffed with pastrami that was breaded and fried, was especially tasty.
While several of the burger selections sampled were excellent, as were the barbeque ribs and chicken wings, the huge winner was not a burger at all, but the pulled pork. The gentleman working the sample station at the grand opening explained that the pork is smoked for 12 hours and then smothered in Max Burger's own signature barbeque sauce. It is truly a delicious option.
In addition to the tremendous food, Max Burger boasts what might be the best beer selection in town with 20 taps, including 14 for craft beer.
The beer list was outstanding, including draft selections by Southern Tier, Magic Hat, Clown Shoes, Rapscallion, Berkshire Brewing and Slumbrew. The bottle list includes most of the standards and also harder-to-find items such as the Left Hand Milk Stout, Notch Session Saison, Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale and Unibroue Fin du Monde. In all, Max Burger carries more than 40 bottles.
A wide selection on red, white and sparkling wines and a full liquor selection makes this a nice spot to stop by for a drink if a full meal isn't on the docket.
They also make spiked milk shakes, including the Kahlua Express, made with Kahlua, double espresso and coffee ice cream, which was scrumptious.
The atmosphere is also a unique one and especially impressive when you consider the space the restaurant occupies was once a Blockbuster Video store. The décor mixes some old-fashioned and rural themes with modern ones and the outdoor patio also offers another nice dining option during nice weather. And in case one might forget what a burger comes from, there are several art pieces dedicated to the cow.
All in all, the folks at Max Burger appear to have put together a first-rate operation. While a bit pricier than the average burger shop, the quality makes up for the difference in price. Next time you have a hankering for a quarter pound of beef, give this place a try for a new take on favorite American fare.