Restaurant Name: Max Brenner - Chocolate By the Bald Man
Cuisine: Desserts & Bakeries, French
Neighborhood: Union Square
Address: 841 Broadway, New York 10003
Btwn 13th St & 14th St
Pricing: Moderately Priced
About a week ago, my mother and I stopped into Max Brenner for lunch. The aroma of chocolate inside the restaurant is quite intoxicating. This place is, without doubt, a chocolate lover's dream. If chocolate isn't you thing, however, never fear! The menu offers a wide variety of savory crepes and waffles to choose from. The decor is interesting - large slabs of chocolate, dark, milk, and white, are stacked up on almost every available surface. Chocolate filled pipes line the ceiling and empty into both vats of spinning chocolate on the floor and dispensers behind the take-out bar.
My mother chose to have dessert before dessert and went with Banana Split Waffles. The dish came with decently sized waffle squares, a quartered banana covered with a light toffee sauce, a dish of strawberries, one scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a small beaker of warm chocolate sauce, which hardened once poured over the ice cream. Everything was cooked to perfection. The ice cream wasn't fabulous, but definitely not terrible. The toffee bananas were probably the highlight of this dish, adding a nice, rich flavor to the taste of the waffles. Had I not been in the mood for something less sweet, I'd have chosen this as my main course.
As I'd not yet eaten that day, I'd decided to go with something with a bit more protein and chose the Croque Madame Waffles - a meal off of the savory waffle menu. The dish was served with two waffles - of the same variety as my mother's dish, though not sweet - each with a scrambled mix of melted cheddar cheese and smoked ham, and topped with a sunny side up egg. A small beaker of mustard sauce and green salad were on the side. The entire thing was absolutely delicious, and extremely filling. I was a bit iffy on the idea of waffles in such a dish, but was more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
For dessert, we shared an Eskimo, which can be found on the ice cream menu, and consists of 2 scoops of ice cream (your choice of dark, milk, or white chocolate, vanilla, or fruit sorbet), a sugar cone, a cup of chocolate covered waffle crunchies, a bowl of finely chopped nuts, and a beaker of hardening chocolate sauce. The ice cream, again, was not bad, but definitely far from the best I've had. We regretted ordering it, as the meals were so filling and the dessert wasn't quite as tasty. I'd recommend sticking to the non-ice cream dessert items. It does well as a small addition to their waffle meals, but not so much on its own.
Notes: In the times I've passed by it before, there's always been a line out the door and a packed lobby inside. We wound up there at a very off hour - around 3pm on a Monday afternoon - and were seated immediately. I'd venture to say that if planning on dining here, timing is definitely key. My meal came out a good 15 minutes after my mother's. If not dining alone, it is probably a good idea to ask that your meals be brought out at the same time, as mom was almost done with hers by the time mine was being served. The wait staff was friendly and the restaurant was clean and not too loud. A nice, though busy atmosphere with very enjoyable music. They also have a wonderful chocolate shop to the right of the main entrance that everyone should check out before leaving.
I'd absolutely give Max Brenner another go... and another, and another.