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Restaurants & Bars 5

Maximillian's

lil mikey | Sep 3, 2005 12:53 PM

My friend, who’s gone to chef’s school and worked at the likes of Maple Drive and La Cachette, found a hidden restaurant where she had 2 “amazing” dinners. But she was concerned they wouldn’t be in business too long because each time she went, there was only one other table occupied.

So we decided to go for lunch.

First of all, the location sucks. It’s not scary or anything, there’s just no built-in customer base like a bunch of offices, or even a bunch of any other businesses anywhere nearby. So if you want to go there, you have to be going specifically for that restaurant. And it’s not on a main thoroughfare, so the prospect of driving by and wanting to try it is not likely.

And oh yeah, they don’t have a sign. The name is painted on the side of the building, but again, even if for some reason you happened to drive by, there’s little chance of stopping-in.

There’s a huge parking lot in the back (off Weddington), and you walk through a very nice patio area with many tables, all empty, to the front of the smallish restaurant. It first strikes you as a converted office building. It just has the doors in the places you’d expect if you were going to the local insurance agency. But it’s been tastefully re-done to be a proper restaurant. There are two inside seating areas: the main dining room, with about 10 tables, and the “private” dining room with 4 tables. From the main dining room, you can watch the chef and his helpers in the kitchen. At about 11:45 am, we were the only ones there. We chose the private dining room.

The service was outstanding. The waiter was very professional and friendly, and his attention was just perfect.

Unlike dinner, when there are only about 6 entrees you can order, the lunch menu had about 20-30 items. There were appetizers, salads, panini, pasta and entrée meat dishes.

The Lyonnaise salad was excellent, though slightly overdressed and just a little bit salty for my taste. But the ingredients were top drawer. The lardons were made from thick-cut pancetta. The croutons were just the right size, and ever-so-slightly softened with oil so they had a nice body, but you could pick them up with your fork. I got the small appetizer size (for most salads you have the choice of appetizer or entrée size), and he used smaller quail eggs instead of larger chicken eggs. This was a nice touch, as the eggs were in better proportion to the smaller salad. They were poached perfectly. The greens were fresh, with no blemishes, and the dressing was just tart enough to balance the other flavors.

The muffaleta sandwich was pressed perfectly. The bread had a nice crust to it, and the contents of the sandwich were sealed in with the exception of some melted swiss cheese spreading out over the sides. But it wasn’t soggy as I’ve suffered-through many times with pressed sandwiches.

It was filled with thinly sliced ham, the melted cheese, and a delicious muffaleta consisting of diced vegetables in a tangy sauce. I never could have finished the sandwich without the muffaleta. It just kept calling me back for more of that flavor.

It was served with a small mixed-green salad that was way overdressed, and after the Lyonnaise salad, was a real let-down.

My friend got the entrée-sized Nicoise salad, with anchovies, thank you very much.

The salad was good-sized and the anchovies were fresh. None of that canned stuff. The other ingredients looked good and fresh, too, and she liked it.

But she said the lunch was nothing compared to dinner. The dinner is real fine-dining, executed magnificently. I thought the lunch was pretty good, comparatively speaking, but now I’m anxious to get back to try the dinner. The large patio would be perfect for a nice evening or a mild afternoon.

Maximillian’s
11330 Weddington (corner of Tujunga)
North Hollywood
(818) 980-6294

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