You have to feel for Restaurant Max, the new restaurant on the ground floor of new Hotel Minneapolis. Why? Because it occupies the grand Edwardian Midland Bank space, and Minneapolis just got done digesting another new restaurant in a grand old bank building—Bank at the former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank. It must be like being the second person to show up at the costume ball in an elaborate Star Wars R2-D2 costume. What are the odds?
Which is too bad, because Max has uniquely nice points: For instance, anyone interested in tasty budget wines is advised to immediately steal a copy of Restaurant Max’s wine list. Designed by the hotel’s beverage manager, Justin Spano, the list is a lively snapshot of the most delicious, inexpensive wines currently available in Minnesota. Don’t buy it? You will if you try one of the restaurant’s wine flights, like the one with vibrant fresh whites from Portugal, Spain, and Australia. Max’s happy hours, Monday through Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. are generous, offering an array of half-price martinis and all sorts of other things, including half-price flatbreads such as the creamy, cheesy beef-and-veal version. Sip one of the creative cocktails, like the surprisingly refreshing and tasty Gatsby’s Daisy, made with fresh tarragon and cranberries, in the splashy, sexy lounge and you’ll feel like the most glamorous person to ever grab a drink before hopping on the light rail.
The food at Max is pretty good—the appetizer of tender baby-back ribs and rich crispy duck-filled egg rolls was particularly comforting—though many of the dishes could use fewer ingredients: Seared scallops would have been stronger without a candy-sweet bourbon glaze. Stick to the simplest dishes and your odds of having a nice meal double, particularly because you’ll get a chance to focus on the excellent service.