sommelier_pPhotograph courtesy

Andre Guerrero has turned over the kitchen at the old Max to Gary Menes, the former Palate chef who’s obviously drawing inspiration from the market-driven menu at his previous post. We only wish the preparation took the same cues. The potted poulet is rich and reminiscent of Thanksgiving leftovers, but it could have used the pickled cherries as advertised on the menu (we got sliced apple instead). Pork belly—inherently delicious—lacks the faintest hint of seasoning. Octopus, which can be such a tender treat, is a textural challenge. Presentations seem hasty, and the balance of ingredients is off. All hope is not lost: The menu changes weekly, which means Menes may yet find what works. » 13355 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks (818-784-2915). D Mon.-Sat. Full bar. New California  $$ 

Photograph courtesy