Nick to the Max

Service was at once casual and formal. Our waiter knew how to stroke us; when we ordered a spicy Ravenswood zinfandel ($28) to complement the meal, he exclaimed, "Oh, you guys know what you're doin'." But after persuading us to order the more expensive items on the menu, he disappeared. And rather than keep the bread basket filled while we waited for our starters, he cleared the table prematurely, in anticipation of the extra dishes. By the time the baked potato arrived, we were so hungry we would have paid 50 bucks to eat it.

It's hard not to compare Nick and Max's to Maxaluna, which I cherished. Nick and Max's has to iron out some wrinkles, but the potential to be an award-winning establishment is obvious. After all, the talent is the same. I'm sure it won't be long before Nick and Max's raises the bar that Maxaluna set.

Nick and Max's. 5050 Town Center Cir., Boca Raton, 561-391-7177. Lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner Monday to Thursday from 6 to 10:30 p.m; Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m.; Sunday till 10 p.m.

Gulf shrimp and onion rings
$9

Rigatoni with short ribs
$21

Special lobster
$26

Lamb chop
$27

Chocolate cake
$8

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