This week’s establishment: Max’s Harvest, Farm to Fork
The scene: It’s no wonder Max’s Harvest has become a locals’ favorite since, throughout the seasons, local farmers dictate the menu. That is, this casual spot just off the main drag, in Delray Beach’s Pineapple Grove district, relies on whatever the freshest local ingredients are to design weekly menus. (Max’s lists the eight local farms it works with on its menu.) And it flies in fresh ingredients daily to highlight the national food trends that diners enjoy, surrounded by dark woods and earth tones, low light and a cozy familial atmosphere. Despite a recent change in the kitchen, with the departure earlier this year of chef Chris Miracolo, the menu is firmly in the hands of Max Group executive chef/ partner Patrick Broadhead, who has nipped off a few items to continue playing to Max’s Harvest’s strengths.
Signature cocktail: Ninety-degree temperatures signify summer is here and so do the light offerings at the bar, such as the Hangin’ Berries ($15). It’s Harvest’s twist on the mojito, following the trend of using vodka instead of rum, this time a vodka infused with Maine blueberries and finished with a splash of soda water to give it a crisp, refreshing finish. A $5 donation from this drink goes to a local food charity, including Slow Foods Glades to Coast’s Eat Slow, Eat Local campaign.
Other notable drinks: Also following the bourbon revival, the Bourbon Orchard ($12) is a summery way to enjoy what is usually thought of as a winter spirit. Here, the Maker’s Mark is combined with a ginger liqueur, muddled strawberries and apple juice to provide a cool summer drink with the smokiness of bourbon. The menu also features the Watermelon Patch ($12), which features fresh local watermelon juice mixed with ginger liqueur and clementine-infused vodka.
Bar bites: A great way to start is the cheese and salumi plate ($12), where Virginia artisanal salami is served with everything from fresh honey, on the comb, to fruit, a cheese of the day and bright, flavorful mango-pineapple chutney. A twist on the trends in lettuce wraps and short ribs in the combination of the two in the Grilled Short Rib Lettuce Cups ($14), in which the Korean barbecue short rib is sliced thin, pounded tender and seared to provide rich flavor with hints of cilantro and mint. But nowhere is the fresh-ingredient demand more evident than in the Local Ricotta Gnocchi ($18) at Max’s Harvest, which uses a different fresh ingredient from week to week. On a recent visit, it was Maine lobster, served in chunks as well as infused in the silver-dollar sized tender ricotta-cheese gnocchi with a lobster brodo, finished with a hint of truffle oil.
Deals: Happy hour is Monday through Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. House cocktails and house wines are $5. A selection of snacks and bar bites are $5.
Info: 169 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach; 561-381-9970; MaxsHarvest.com
C O C K T A I L
2 ounces Hangar One Maine Wild Blueberry Vodka
1 ounce simple syrup
10 to 12 blueberries, muddled
Fresh mint sprigs
Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain over ice and top with a splash of soda water. Add several blueberries to garnish.