Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man
841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Streets)
New York, NY
You should know
A classmate of mine wrote a story on Brenner, and after we discussed the piece in class, everyone wanted to try the place out.
Chris visited me in New York not long after, so when I got out of class he met me on campus and we took a nice walk to the restaurant.
I don’t like marshmallows unless they have been recently roasted. This is relevant.
Also, for good or ill: chocolate.
After some debate, we decided to do the opposite of our normal routine: instead of ordering entrees and then getting dessert if we still have room, we ordered dessert first with the plan to get an entrée if we weren’t quite full.
All the desserts looked great, but one really stood out: the Warm Double Chocolate Fondue (for two) ("With seasonal fresh fruit, grilled marshmallows, and banana bread, $14.90"). It comes as a heated contraption; two pots of chocolate (your choice, we picked milk and dark) over low burners to keep them liquid but not scorched, and flame over which one can roast marshmallows. In addition to the marshmallows, the fondue came with strawberries, banana chunks, and pieces of fresh-baked banana bread. Delicious! If you ever get a chance to dip a gooey roasted marshmallow into liquid dark chocolate, take it.
We weren’t quite satiated, so after some hard thought decided to split a Turkey Mushroom Crepe ("Smoked turkey and mushrooms folded in a thin crepe with melted Swiss cheese on top, served with green salad, $11.75"). It was tasty, but not much of a follow-up.
For a beverage, I just had a lemon iced tea($2.50); the hot chocolates, shakes, and cocktails looked amazing, but they are kind of expensive($3.95-$11.25), and I was concerned that, paired with the fondue, one form of chocolate might overpower the other. The tea was too sweet, but when you pair a drink with a dessert, it either has to be sweet enough to compete, or so un-sweet it stands out – and how bitter do you really want your iced tea? Next time, I think I’ll just start with water.
The décor was busy but interesting, with a faux pipe (painted to look like it was piping chocolate throughout the premises) winding around the ceiling, and a tiny, congested gift shop pushing gourmet candies and signature glassware right across from the tiny, congested take-out counter. The bathrooms are also quite nice.
Save room for dessert
Clearly it’s not for folks with chocolate allergies, and dieters – especially Atkins dieters – might want to be wary, but even so, check this place out. I do recommend following our lead and getting dessert first; you can always get “real” food when you’re done.
The rest of the Internet
A brief review at Off the Broiler, complete with lots of pictures.
New York Magazineoffers a good review.
The folks at Chowhound were unimpressed.
Cybele at Candy Blog gives a glowing review of Max Brenner's candies.
A pleasant review at BlackBook.