Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Max & Erma's - MacArthur Mall, Norfolk VA

Logo Max and Erma's
In the news this week, Max & Erma's Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors, listing between $1 million and $10 million in debts.
Original Post September 3, 2009
I have always found the food court in MacArthur Center to be underwhelming, which is disappointing considering its proximity to my office. When venturing to the mall for lunch there are three places I frequent. I have already reviewed two, those being Nordstrom Café (my favorite) and California Pizza Kitchen. The third is Max & Erma’s. When heading out for lunch this past Tuesday with *Brianna, I told her I was going to finally review Max & Erma’s. She said something to the effect of, “We’ll see how it goes. They can be hit or miss.” This is so true, especially when it comes to service.

Upon arriving we were promptly seated (often there is a wait during lunch hours), but noticed that the place was packed. We were seated next to a rather large party of 10-12, which appeared to be a work group celebrating something. They have a fairly extensive menu. The primary fare is soup, salads, sandwiches, burgers and appetizers, but they also have a nice variety of steak, chicken, seafood and pasta dishes. The menu seems to change a lot. They used to have a salad I loved, the Shrimp Stack that was eliminated with a menu update. I haven’t fully recovered from that loss. If I am ordering an appetizer, I usually get the Black Bean Roll Ups. There is enough in the portion that these could serve as a meal for one too. They are tasty and a healthy, lower fat/calorie option. Our server was prompt, and having been there a gazillion times, we didn’t really need to peruse the menu, but instead ordered right away.

It took roughly 45 minutes to get our order. I knew this was going to happen because they were busy and the large table was seated before us. Oh well. It was really the only glitch in the meal. Max and Erma's SaladI have developed an affection for their Apple Pecan salad, which is mixed greens tossed in a maple vinaigrette, topped with apples, sweet & spicy pecans, dried cranberries, crumbled bleu cheese & a balsamic drizzle. I always get the dressing on the side on my salads, but I especially recommend it on this one. Since it is tossed in a dressing and then drizzled with another…that’s a lot of dressing. I know this is the big trend now, salads mixing fruit, goat or blue cheese and candied nuts. This is a perfectly proportioned salad mix. The pecans are really well done, not overdoing the sweetness, which can fill you up and add calories, and just the right amount of spicy kick. Additionally, the chicken is perfect. A lot of places serve you prepackaged meat, or a dry and overcooked mess. Not so here. My chicken was flavorful and tender.

Max and Erma's dish Barbecue Sandwich*Brianna also ordered one of her favorites, the barbecue sandwich. She swears by it. Her only complaint is that it does not come with Cole slaw. I have to agree with that. How can you even eat a barbecue sandwich without slaw on top? As noted in “…the combination of Cole Slaw and barbecue goes back a long time. Traditional Carolina style barbecue sandwiches are typically topped with shredded cabbage or Cole Slaw. This is probably the biggest reason why Cole Slaw is the number one salad of the American cookout.” If you want Cole slaw with your barbecue sandwich at Max & Erma’s you can order it as a separate side and pay for it. They will not let you substitute it as your side. After trying to get past this with several different servers *Brianna is over it by now, but I still find it annoying. They need to hook up their Southern clientele with some slaw!
Max and Erma
The food at Max Erma’s is consistent. It isn’t going to bowl you over, but the variety offers something for everyone. Service is a toss up, depending upon the day and time you are there. The décor is primarily the hokey, contrived collectibles look that you find in so many chains, with the exception of a few local sport champions’ memorabilia. For some reason they have clung to this creepy looking cartoon couple who I assume are the original Max & Erma couple. They are scary looking and severely outdated. I suggest the company either hire Carson Kressley to lead a make over for those two or completely eliminate them as soon as possible.
Carson Kressley
The Max & Erma's reviewed is located at:
MacArthur Center
300 Monticello Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510
Max & Erma's on Urbanspoon


MIchele said...

I go to the Max & Erma's on Military Highway and like you said, not too much to brag about ... except for the cookies that we get at the end of the meal ... delicious!

Laine and Alex said...

Agreed! I forgot about that. They will cook a fresh batch and serve them to you warm. Yummy!

sn0flke said...

Yikes! Not the restaurant that NEVER had my blackbean burger when I wanted it?! I mean, seriously it bites to be in that situation. Can't say I'll miss them though.

Laine and Alex said...

take no prisoners sn0flke!