I experience a lot of places, and some I love more than others, naturally.
When I fall in true love, it makes me anxious to share with you the especially wonderful places [EWP for short].
Café Max is an EWP.
A lot of the visits I make are not even intentional in the sense of planning to write about them and this is true of this visit.
I was there to meet friends, and I was early.
Max greeted me with such genuine warmth, and didn’t stop there – he pulled up a chair and we launched into a conversation about the East Coast and quickly found common ground; both he and my husband are Latin boys from NYC [he from the Bronx, my husband from Queens].
We also discussed Denver drivers [of which we’re each one, but maintain an East Coast sensibility about, i.e. – yellow doesn’t mean stop, and a better sense of urgency is helpful to keep the traffic flowing smoothly], his vision for the café, his time living in New Mexico, travels and more.
He didn’t know I write a food blog.
The talk was impromptu – and as natural as it gets – and that’s what made it so wonderful.
He, along with his partner Yuki – a Nobu alum, no less – opened Café Max early this year, after having spent 5 years researching cafes and coffee shops in and around Denver.
It reminds me of an old favorite spot in NYC, which sadly, is no longer there – Takashimaya – an outpost of a Japanese department store, originally opened in Kyoto in 1831.
This is possibly the highest compliment I can pay to a space.
Takashimaya [and now Café Max] had a style and grace I always craved.
Cool and warm.
Chic and approachable.
After moving to Colorado, it was a must-visit on every trip back to New York, and I’d make the slightly begrudged trek to Fifth Avenue, preferring to spend my time in the more interesting and artful neighborhoods of the West Village, Chelsea and SoHo.
Café Max is all of these things – cool, warm, chic, approachable, interesting, artful – and Max himself brings it to full life.
I started with a Belgian beer, mixed with orange juice, on Max’s recommendation.
It was the perfect refreshment on a 90* [!] September afternoon.
I then had a meal of Grateful Bread baguette slices, a generous wedge of Brie and fig jam.
A lovely plate and a satisfying one, too.
Dessert began with a matcha green tea latte in a traditional Japanese pottery teacup, sitting on a rounded square wood plate; the presentation was simultaneously elegant and earthy.
An olive oil and rosemary cake slice, and their shortbread cookies – both made in-house – were just the right amount of sweet.
As sophistication does, they make refined choices in their food and drink offerings.
Like not sweetening their whipped cream siding the cake, because there’s enough sweetness on the plate already.
Like making their café con leche in the traditional manner [read: no condensed milk].
Like offering a highly curated selection of beer and wine, chosen with the help of Colorado beverage guru, Travis Plakke.
This is not a coffee house.
This is a true café in the European style.
There are pastries, coffee and tea, yes.
And they are all of the highest quality.
But, Café Max is so, so much more than this.
Grab a friend or five, and pay them a visit.
You’ll feel like you’re in Europe, or NYC.
And be sure to pay particular attention to the huge piece of art hanging above the counter, made by a local Boulder artist.
It’s done entirely in chalk.
It’s incredible and worth a visit alone just to see it in person.
2412 E. Colfax