MAx SoHa is the little sibling to Max on Avenue B. It just opened two days ago on the corner of 123rd and Amsterdam (hence, SOuth HArlem...really, it's Morningside Heights,but MoHe isn't as catchy). It's on the site of a burned-down bodega. Although it's cash-only, I think it's a welcome addition to a neighborhood that could use one or two "better" places to eat.
That said,when I stepped through the doors last night, I noticed that there were no faces from the "old" neighborhood...in other words, it looked like mostly Columbia grad students and young adjunct professors, but no working or middle-class people from the nabe. The prices are sorta ok ($10.95 for a decent size plate of good-if-salty spinach ravioli with a luxurious butter and sage sauce), but might be a bit much. Dinner for one with wine, dessert, and tip would set you back around $24.
The smoky bar took up much of the tiny space, and the communal but cozy seating will tick off my larger than average S.O. Still, the staff is attidude-less and eager to please. There are also quite a few wine-by-the-glass options that are tasty and priced right ($5-$7).
I started with a nice glass of Pinot Blanc from Fruili and some crusty peasant bread with red peppers mashed in olive oil. Then I had the aforementioned ravioli, which was a special. I'm thinking about going back there tonight w/ the S.O. to try the polpottene, or homemade spaghetti with lamb ragu, or even a fresh-sounding spaghetti norma...the ossobucco sounded yummy, but the menu as a whole seems a bit heavy for this spring/summer transitional season. Of course, I think they're trying to get the permit for the ubiquitous outside seating that is so common a few blocks south at the Columbia U. haunts, but sorely lacking up here.
My only quibble was that the espresso machine went on the blink just as I was craving an end-of-meal caffeine jolt, so I decided to forgo the rather pedestrian holy trinity of desserts:tiramisu, panna cotta and sorbet.
Has anyone else gone yet? What did you think? I hope and pray this will be the beginning of a mini-rush of restaurants to the area just north of Columbia. While I love M&G's soul food stop, the Mexican place on Broadway by LaSalle, and its neighbor Toast, which is just down the block (chipotle ketchup!), I'm always looking for alternatives to cooking on lazy nights.