Located on Boylston Street in the Back Bay, just steps from the Copley stop on the T, sits the coolest restaurant that chocoholics have ever experienced. The walls are lined with beakers of chocolate and the reminders of “sweet” childhood experiences. You can smell the cocoa from right outside on the street. Even the music that is pulsing when you walk in is inspired by chocolate culture. If Willy Wonka owned a restaurant, it would be this mad scientist joint.
The place is called Max Brenner, named after the chocolatier owner. They call it Chocolate by the Bald Man.
You will feel welcome at Max Brenner. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is far from pretentious, and the customer base is very diverse. Sometimes the staff is forgetful (as is the case at any restaurant), but they are usually attentive and on the ball.
Whether you go in the summer or in the winter, Max Brenner offers great drink choices. For the winter, it offers a creative hot chocolate menu—including dark, white, and milk chocolate flavors—that is sure to make anyone feel warm and cozy. In the summer, its specially-crafted milkshakes hit the spot.
The hot chocolate is served in a “hug mug” which perfectly fits within your hand and is fun to drink from.
Max Brenner also boasts the best appetizers in Boston. The white corn croquettes are Yumm to the E; the combination of lightly-fried manchego cheese and sweet white cornballs with a spicy dipping sauce is scrumptious; and the waffle fries dusted with chili and cocoa powder are very satisfying. They also serve delicious Vidalia onion rings with a dark chocolate ranch dressing.
The combinations may seem strange and unappealing, but Max Brenner always proves the customers wrong.
Max Brenner even holds its own when it comes to main entrées. The thin crust pizza is thin and crispy, like a cracker, and the menu also offers a bangin’ Kobe beef burger that the chefs will customize according to customer preferences. The burgers go perfectly with one of the restaurant’s famed milkshakes.
When it comes to entrées, my go-to is the steak pillow Panini with a house-made red pepper aioli.
The savory food is good, but the real reason people go to Max Brenner is for the mind-boggling desserts. The dessert menu is so extensive that it can induce headaches.
The Tableside S’mores are great, but my favorite dessert is the Cake and Shake, a liquid-centered chocolate cake served on a cake stand with a vanilla bourbon ice cream, fresh berries, and extra chocolate ganache.
If you’re looking for a dessert to share with the whole table, get the Choco Chunk Pizza. It comes with toasted marshmallows, chocolate shavings, and peanut butter. It will take you back five years to when you were a kid stealing chocolate out of mama’s kitchen.
If you want to skip church some Sunday (which of course you should never do), Max Brenner has a great Sunday brunch. It isn’t worth sacrificing your chances at heaven, but if you are in good standing it may be worth taking a Sunday off.
Max Brenner succeeds at taking chocolate to a new level and his restaurant has even created a new chocolate culture. The restaurant offers a cool experience and I urge you to try it for yourself; however, there are some downsides to it.
Flavor is sometimes sacrificed for flare, and it can be a little pricy. It’s not the place to go every Saturday, but it is perfect for an ENC first date—believe me.
If you want a treat to remember your experience, you can stop by the gift shop and take home a chocolate syringe to prepare for your next choco-craving.
Max Brenner changes the ordinary. You may not win a golden ticket, but you need to give Max a chance to change your life.