Max Brenner — creating a new chocolate culture worldwide. As cheesy (or chocolatey) as it sounds, that is what this restaurant, this man, is actually doing. When Max was 10 years old, he read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl, and swore that one day he would find a river of chocolate and sail in it, as he explains in his story on the website. He had a dream to become a writer.
Brenner lived in Paris and had been an apprentice for six years, learning how to make toffee, marzipan and nougat. He still wanted to write. In the 18 years since, Brenner has opened his own small location in Israel and spread to Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, the United States and Japan, and is continuing to expand. Throughout all that time, he still never wrote. Brenner explains that he wants the experience with chocolate to be divine and to include all the senses. After all this time, he has never actually written anything, but he always tells about his love for chocolate; he invites customers to watch, smell, taste and feel his love story.
That is exactly what I did when I went; I watched, smelled, tasted and felt the atmosphere and all of my friends’ food and desserts. I was shocked when I walked in because the restaurant was smaller than I imagined. However, the decor makes up for the size. When you first walk in, you are greeted by the chocolate shop, which is filled with all sorts of fancily wrapped chocolate, dazzling colors and lights, and ready-to-go gifts. Next to the hostess stand is a large, mesmerizing machine that constantly mixes chocolate. I thought that was a nice touch and cool first impression. The layout of the restaurant was unique as well. Behind the gift shop and hostess stand is the main seating, followed by the chocolate bar. The core of the restaurant can be most easily explained by picturing a tree with a large, wide tree trunk. Now picture seating all around the bottom of the trunk. There are booth seats around the bottom, and then tables and normal chairs on the other side of the table. The “trunk” itself has shelves with chocolate products, of course. Then there are other tables and booths around the restaurant. On the walls are eclectic pictures and quotes, such as images of chocolate bars and “Eat More Chocolate,” and other little designs that create a fun vibe. The chocolate bar is like a normal bar, but better, obviously. At the chocolate bar you can indulge in a decadent chocolate heaven, ordering anything from milkshakes, to crepes and waffles, to fondue. I thought the chocolate bar was a sweet touch to the experience.
I was able to experience the “really-cheesy really-crunchy mac & cheese,” the “Brenner burger,” waffle fries, the salted caramel milkshake, the strawberry white chocolate smoothie, and the “spectacular melting chocolate s’mores sundae.” When I told anyone at school that I was going to Max Brenner, their eyes lit up, a smile from ear-to-ear appeared on their face, and they gushed about how amazing the food is. Now, when anyone talks about Max Brenner to me, I will respond in the same way. Almost everything I ate made my taste buds go wild. Unfortunately, the “really-cheesy really-crunchy mac & cheese,” which is described as a special five-cheese blend with tomatoes and applewood-smoked bacon, was a disappointment. Especially because I heard it was better than homemade mac and cheese. There may have been five cheeses in there, but I could not tell. There were not many tomatoes or bacon bits, and instead of having an appetizing smoked taste, the dish just tasted burnt. The “Brenner burger,” consisting of Max’s secret barbeque sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, and a Vidalia onion ring, was cooked and made to perfection. The ratio of all the toppings was excellent; you were able to taste every topping along with the actual meat of the burger. The waffle fries were waffle fries, not much to say there.
The salted caramel milkshake, a concoction of vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate ganache, caramel, sea salt, milk and whipped cream, was everything I dreamt of and more. That is personally one of my favorite sweet flavors, and to turn it into a milkshake was heaven in a cup. The sea salt contrasted fabulously with all the sweetness in the shake and could not have been made any better. This was my favorite item I tried all night. The strawberry white chocolate smoothie, which included white chocolate ganache blended with yogurt, strawberries and ice, was better than I thought it would be. When I think smoothie I think fruit, so to add chocolate made me a little skeptical. The flavors mixed well, but it is not my number one pick.
Last but not least was the “spectacular melting chocolate s’mores sundae,” which consisted of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, layered with milk chocolate fondue, fluffy marshmallow, warm peanut butter sauce, pure chocolate chunks and was garnished with whipped cream and a toasted marshmallow served with white chocolate ganache. I’d be willing to say that this is the most glorious dessert you have ever heard of. Even better, it tasted more glorious than it sounds. Every layer of ice cream, chocolate, fluff, sauce and ganache melted together into a savory, blissful bite. Enough said.
Max Brenner is hands down a five out of five stars. It would be six out of five stars, if that was possible. As a broke college student, I would say the food is a little expensive. The sundae was $14, but I believe every dollar was worth it. In the normal world, this restaurant is mildly expensive. Max Brenner is fun to go to with friends, family or on a date. The food and experience is one that you can’t get just anywhere. I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone!