A longtime local go-to for superior wine and food, Max Downtown opened in Connecticut’s capital city in 1996. The restaurant underwent a complete renovation in 2017, including an expansion of its wine rooms and a rebuild of its cellar that now houses more than 6,000 bottles. Around this time, wine director Brian Mitchell shifted the program’s focus from higher-end wines to mid-priced picks from smaller producers that still deliver top quality. The well-rounded list has maintained its Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence title since 2008. It showcases impressive verticals in its strongest regions of California and France; for example, four vintages of Harlan Estate Napa Valley, seven vintages of Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape and six vintages of Dominus Estate Napa Valley. Also among the 455 selections are more than two dozen wines by the glass and 15 available in large formats. The restaurant’s identity as a steak house with a contemporary edge is anchored by chef Christopher Sheehan’s old-meets-new cuisine. There’s a section of “chop house classics” with traditional steaks and sauces, but the menu extends into creative signature items like roasted colossal shrimp with lemongrass and herb risotto, and seared tuna with spicy peanut noodles.
Jul 18, 2019