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Max Brenner's Chocolate Shop

j
jaime Cohen Aug 16, 2007 09:38 AM

Any thoughts about Max Brenner's Chocolate cafe? A group of girls want to take a friend out for a birthday dessert...how does this place rate?

  1. rose water Aug 16, 2007 10:08 AM

    Here are a few prior threads on Max Brenner's. (There are many more if you search the Manhattan board).
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/374699
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321628
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/313697

    1. h
      harrison Aug 16, 2007 11:16 AM

      unless you're bringing a 10 year old from out of town, stay away...far away.

      1 Reply
      1. re: harrison
        j
        jaime Cohen Aug 16, 2007 03:04 PM

        Thanks for the links and the heads up!

      2. d
        debann Aug 16, 2007 10:38 PM

        Be afraid, be very afraid. The chocolate is very low quality. It is a loud circus and the desserts are hideous. AVOID.

        1. u
          UES Mayor Aug 17, 2007 04:37 AM

          total tourist trap!! not for a foodie like you

          1 Reply
          1. re: UES Mayor
            m
            mlt9 Aug 17, 2007 08:02 AM

            well, while it's certainly not highbrow, and touristy indeed, and i have brought out of town friends there, i happen to think it's a fun and good for a variety of chocolately fun deserts with a group.... i think it's great for that and not too expensive. i was very hesitant but have had a good time whenver i've gone.

            dip is fun for parties/ chocolate fondue desert too... also not amazing food, but still a good time, plus a decent bar scene.... maybe chocolate bar- but that's tiny... and room 4 desert is closed.

          2. p
            progressivenewamerican Aug 17, 2007 08:27 AM

            Really have you not read Frank Bruni's hilarious review of that god-forsaken place?

            http://events.nytimes.com/2007/05/02/...

            1. e
              emmers Aug 17, 2007 08:36 AM

              I've been about 3 or 4 times and my experience has ranged to fun, girls' night out indulgence (about a year or so ago) to my last visit, which was probably one of my worst experiences in a restaurant anywhere, ever. Mostly the service is just beyond atrocious. I went on a random weekday evening with two friends from out of town who said they wanted to go to Cosi for smores. Thinking that Max Brenner would be a newer, fun twist on the Cosi smores experience (and also that cosi was on the same block in case MB was packed), i talked it up and we went there. There were tons of empty tables and yet tons of people waiting to be seated. Many of the people waiting were tourist-types (yes, i'm stereotyping), so i opened my big obnoxious new yorker mouth to ask what the deal was. Hostess said that the kitchen was short staffed. Not sure what that had to do with not seating people at tables, even if they would have had to wait longer for food. We waited a while and since my friends thought the place seemed really cool, they wanted to wait instead of going to Cosi.

              Once we were finally seated, we were treated to horrible, rude service and a ridiculously long wait for ice cream (although i expected that). Our table was by the station where the server rings up the check and our own waitress continually knocked into my chair every time she went over there. Despite this hovering over our table, she never came over to offer any water or apologize for the wait. After I while, I nicely asked if she could check on our desserts (we did not order meals) and she responded rudely and we continued to wait. It was just incredibly ridiculous. When we left, I asked to speak to the manager, but none was apparently available. I was given a phone number to call the next day, but ended up not bothering. I will just not go back.

              I guess this one night could have been an extreme, so i would say if you really want to check it out, try it once. Maybe the one on 2nd is less pathetically run..

              3 Replies
              1. re: emmers
                w
                windycity Aug 17, 2007 10:45 AM

                I went once, and I didn't sit. I got the chocolate croissant and the hot cocoa. The croissant was chewy and almost inedible. And the hot cocoa . . . well, lets just say that I loooove hot cocoa, and I'm not a hot cocoa snob. I really enjoy a cup of swiss miss with marshmellows, as well as artisanally brewed cocoa.

                I'm afraid could not finish even a quarter of the swill that Max Brenner serves up. It seems that Max Brenner is diluting not just the hot cocoa, but the very good name of chocolate by pretending to be a chocolate heaven.

                Recently I saw the actual Max Brenner on FoodTV and I snarled. Yes, the food was that foul.

                If you want to go somewhere for bday dessert, take them to Payard and eat some delicious tortes or macaroons with a pot of cassis tea. They also have pretty good sorbets.

                1. re: windycity
                  c
                  cecilynyc Aug 18, 2007 09:26 PM

                  I have to disagree with WindyCity...In the wintertime, I often sneak in there for the hot chocolate, hoping not to shame myself by anyone i know seeing me enter this generally insulting spot. I don't know how that hideous and revolting "Bald Man" does it, but the hot cocoa is INCREDIBLE! I am also quite picky about my chocolates, and I would contest that, origins aside, their hot cocoa stands up to Jacques Torres.
                  However, under NO circumstances (except, perhaps, in the event that the rest of the world's chocolate supply ran out and M.B. became the plenipotentiary proprieter) would I ever recommend eating any of their gimmicky (Chocloate Pizza, Bagel with chocolate, etc), overpriced, and sub-par chocolates. Why waste your money and efforts when you can walk a few blocks up from the Union Sq location to City Bakery?
                  Honestly, you'd be better off with a symphony bar from the corner deli.

                  1. re: cecilynyc
                    k
                    kathryn Aug 18, 2007 10:15 PM

                    What type of hot chocolate do you order there? I've had friends try a few kinds, to mixed results. General consensus seems to be that only the Italian kind is any good.

              2. e
                eastvillgirl Aug 17, 2007 08:49 PM

                I have been dragged to Max Brenner's on two occasions, and both visits were atrocious. Bad service, yes; Disneyland decor, bad acoustics, bad music, tons of tourists, yes; but worst of all, the desserts were just disgusting. Bad quality chocolate, strangely fussy presentation, and IMHO, high prices for what you get.

                For desserts, I'd recommend two other casual and affordable East Village cafes - Veniero's, on E 11th St betwn 1st and 2nd Avenues, or Di Robertis, on 1st Ave betwn 11th and 10th Sts.

                1 Reply
                1. re: eastvillgirl
                  l
                  LolaNYC Aug 19, 2007 09:08 AM

                  Touristy. The chocolate was low quality. I was really disappointed.

                2. m
                  maxine Aug 19, 2007 09:20 AM

                  I agree that Max Brenner is annoying, overpriced and the food is mostly awful. However children would love the Disneyesq atmosphere.

                  I also have two exceptions to the bad food. The chocolate brownie cookie is one of the best chocolate cookies I have ever had and I get a craving for it every month or so. I also stopped in the other day and had a mocha frosty (with skim milk and dark chocolate). At over $6 it was expensive, but OMG soooooooo good. And it was rich enough that I only drank half and saved the rest for the next day.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: maxine
                    f
                    fluffy Aug 19, 2007 04:14 PM

                    Then take the kids to Serendipity instead for a frozen hot chocolate AVOID the Bald Man at all costs

                    1. re: fluffy
                      s
                      Sammy Diaz Aug 20, 2007 03:52 PM

                      the place is generally gross, but i must admit i loved the chocolate parfait pudding in a lowbrow "KFC little bucket parfait" kind of way. i dont think its all that bad -- its certainly not jacques torres, but its kind of fun in a trashy way!

                  2. p
                    piccola Sep 24, 2007 05:50 PM

                    Their (homemade) veggie burger is awesome. Seriously. The chocolate, not so much.

                    1. shabbystorm Mar 9, 2009 06:12 AM

                      It is ok to have FUN in life!

                      You gotta love a place that has popsicle fondues and chocolate syringes

                      If you don't have Rugrats you don't have to eat here but pop in and grab a handful of the crunch chocolate waffle balls before looking at the books over at the STRAND.

                      I don't recommend the chocolate Pizza to go. It is difficult to eat while walking - learned this the hard way LOL.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shabbystorm
                        w
                        windycity Mar 9, 2009 01:18 PM

                        It's not about having or not having fun. There are plenty of fun places that also serve edible food. Sadly the Bald Man doesn't qualify.

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