There is a paucity of places where one can get a decent cappuccino around Columbia University. Those of Cafe Max are inconsistent, but 50% of the time you can get one with good steamed milk, by which I mean they don't burn the hell out of it like most places in town. The espresso, on the other hand, is quite good (but then again, requires far less skill). That said, in general their espresso drinks are better than Panino Sportivo, Pisticci's, Amsterdam Cafe, Artopolis, of course Starbucks, and pretty much anything else around the university. Oren's at 112 & Bway, however, beats them hands down at all points. So not my favorite, but they'll do. Max Cafe also serves meals. Again, however, of variable quality. Anything that involves chicken will probably be overcooked as though it's taken straight from a refrigerated bin and microwaved. Quiche and frittata are good, croissants are superb, salads ok, prosciutto low quality, sandwiches aren't exciting and too limited on the menu. They have daily specials, which also vary: I've had the best vegetable lasagna I've ever ever had in my life there, but as far as I know its not been on the menu since. I've also had a fabulous beef stew. Insofar as studying goes, it's a nice place, very cozy with lots of couches and aged wooden furniture. Not many power plugs, but free wifi. Decently lit during the daytime, though way too low for reading in the evening. There is also outdoor seating for nice days, which is a total treat. For the neighborhood, I give the Max Cafe 8/10; for Manhattan, 5/10.
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