Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man
1500 Walnut Street
(15th Street between Walnut and Locust)
One whiff of the intoxicating chocolate aroma and you're instantly aware this is not your average sweet shop. Emphasizing the emotional, sensual side of chocolate, at Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man you can participate in the ultimate chocolate experience as you "see, smell, listen, taste, and touch chocolate" in every imaginable form. My visit began with browsing the chocolate merchandise at the in-store giftshop, which made me even more eager to sit down and start sampling.
The menu is overwhelmed with items including Waffles and Crepes, Fondue, Melting chocolate hearts (think molten chocolate cake), Sweet Icons (chocolate pizzas and soups), and Max I Scream (ice cream). Mesmerized by words like "chocolate chunks" and "crunchy wafer balls," when it came time to actually order we panicked and randomly selected the Urban S'mores for Two ($20.25), complete with a personal grill for ‘mallow toasting, and the Gooey Marshmallow Fudge Brownie Fluffernutter Ice Cream Sandwich with the famous Max Brenner "Oh My God" cookies ($9.95). Seriously, with a name like that, could it possibly taste anything short of amazing?
Well, clearly not, because we devoured both extravagant treats in an embarrassingly short amount of time...and there might have been some plate licking involved at the end (we couldn't help ourselves). Each dish was as attractive as it was delicious, but what really got my attention were the unique, unexpected touches like fresh raspberry sauce for the s'mores and the shiny dipping pool of warm, creamy peanut butter that accompanied the cookies. It's those tiny details that made all the difference.
Though we came only for dessert, there's actually an extensive menu for food, brunch and drink as well. Dishes like the Really Cheesy - Really Crunchy Mac 'n Cheese and the Unforgettable Spicy Tuna Salad Sandwich (with pickled jalapeños and crushed bbq chips) are particularly intriguing and will undoubtedly merit a repeat visit. And, thanks to the cocoa-dusted waffle fries accompanying many of the savory dishes, the chocolate is never completely absent. In the end, regardless of the route you choose, Max Brenner treats you right. As promised, it's bound to leave you in a state of complete chocolate euphoria.