Sunday, March 04, 2012

Max Brenner - Boston, MA

On Sunday we ate brunch at Chocolate by the Bald Man - Max Brenner in Boston. Allie first tried this place last summer and thought that we had to try it.  Ashley really wanted to try it and was sure that I would never, ever, not in a million years take her.  Well, the joke was on her... we went to brunch. In fact, we arrived at 3:00 pm and were the last party to be served brunch, but we were happy as we love brunch at all hours.
Now, Max Brenner is on Bolyston Street, next to Atlantic Fish Company Restaurant. We had a wonderful time, but I am not sure I would return.
Max Brenner is primarily a chocolate shop that doubles as a restaurant.  When you enter the small restaurant, you are immediately surrounded by the amazing smell of tempering chocolate.  And it is heavenly.
We wanted a meal and many of the dishes were laced with chocolate, including the chocolate ranch dressing for the onion rings.  Surprisingly, the sauce flavor tasted more like balsamic vinegar than chocolate and it was quite tasty -- unusual, but tasty.
Ashley and Allie had typical breakfast/brunch fare - waffles and apple pie french toast and they LOVED it.  Jon and I each had a Brenner burger and it was good.  I was most impressed that the burger was topped with crisp lettuce, a freshly sliced tomato and a challah-type bun.
Dessert was definitely in order.  After smelling the chocolate and seeing all the chocolates melting, brewing and being served, who could resist?
Allie and Ashley shared a fondue for two.  It was served with marshmallows, fresh strawberries, sliced bananas  a waffle covered with fresh berries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, two small brownies, a chocolate bar, a caramel crispy bar, some fried bananas and a vial of chocolate ganache.  The fondue came in their choice of white, milk or dark chocolate.  They chose milk chocolate and enjoyed it tremendously.
 Jon selected an vanilla ice cream popsicle that came with three toppings that he could choose to dip the ice cream - melted chocolate, chocolate crispy beads and a bowl of chopped hazelnuts.  The ice cream bar was tiny -- not a standard size about 3 1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide.  He enjoyed it and even resisted licking the bowl.
After inhaling chocolate for 30 minutes, I had had my fill, so for dessert I had a cappuccino. Not to be outdone, Brenner serves it in a Kangaroo Cup - which is their name for this really fun cup and saucer.  The cup has a lip that is perfect for placing 2 tiny squares of Brenner Chocolate.  The chocolate slowly melts by the heat of the coffee and works it's way into your cup.  So, while they didn't subliminally (or not so subliminally) get me to order a chocolate dessert, they did entice me to purchase my own kangaroo mug and a small bag of chocolate so I can enjoy this at home. Yes, I am a sucker for a comfortable mug and this was just so cute and unusual.  Well, we all have our vices.
At the front of the restaurant is their gift shop featuring their mugs, cups, etc and of course, their namesake chocolate.  Here is a large chocolate brick (restaurant size) selling for $250.

So, if this restaurant was so fun and entertaining, why would I hesitate to return?
Max Brenner is extravagant. The presentation is extraordinary and I was definitely impressed with the visual aspect.  The meal was good  and Ashley and Allie would tell you that it was great.
The chocolate smell, while exquisite at first became overwhelming for me.
The restaurant was loud.  In addition to music being played way too loudly to actually hear conversations at our table, the restaurant had some large screen TV's that were tuned to sporting events.  At various times, patrons would erupt in cheers when someone scored a goal.  I didn't really expect to be at a sports bar.
The restroom was clean and there were 4 stalls, but the sink was automatic and the water was ice cold.  There was no way to adjust the temperature and I don't mean that the water was tepid, I mean it was absolutely ice cold.  My fingers turned numb and red from washing them.
All the food was presented with great artistic flair and I must admit, it was highly artistic.  It was quite expensive, to the tune of $8 for a milkshake, $22 for the fondue for 2 and $15 for Jon's popsicle fondue.  While none of us drank a cocktail, they ran $14 each.
The meal was enjoyable and we had a lot of fun being together.  It was an unusual experience and it was very fun to see the food presentation.

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