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Max Brenner E. Village

planning on taking the family there for a chocolate splurge.
Is this a good idea and if so what to order or what to miss?

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  1. I found the chocolate pizza to be very good, along with their Italian hot chocolate. However, I'd suggest ordering less than the amount you expect to eat - the chocolate gets overpowering pretty quickly!

    1. ugh...just the thought of this place makes me ill. its pretty horrible quality chocolate. i call it the starbucks meets chuck e cheese of chocolate.

      jacques torres is horrible as well. i suggest you go to some place with excellent desserts instead...

      6 Replies
        1. re: holldoll

          go to chikalicious instead...not far from max - b...they don't have a chocolate focus per se but desserts are very good. I disagree on Sam's view on Jacques Torres...I think he is solid...never been to max B so can't comment...but my wife likes his hot chocolate...:)

          1. re: Scotty100

            when i wrote my post, i was wondering where i can steer you to that has similar offerings but unfortunately cant think of any...which is why places like max brenner do rather well.

            i like the gelato at grom...they just opened a new branch on carmine in the west village. rice to riches is cheesy but wow, i really love their hazelnut rice pudding. ronnybrook farms in the chelsea market has great milkshakes...so does stand, the hamburger joint on 12th street off university place.

            i dont think chikalicious would be great with a family but my suggestions may work.

            1. re: Scotty100

              I don't think Chikalicious would be great for a family/kids, which I think was holldoll's intention. Holldoll if you are going with kids, Max Brenner is fun and the kids will enjoy it. Certainly not the highest quality desserts out there, but that's not what you go to a place like Max Brenner for. Avoid the chocolate popsicles as the ones I had recently were freezer-burned and pretty bad. The crepes, waffles and chocolate pizza were decent.

          2. re: sam1

            sam i 100% agree with you on both counts.

            i'm not really sure where else to go for great chocolately treats. i like the CITY BAKERY hot chocolate festival, but that's all i got.

            1. re: mrnyc

              There's tons of places: small and very rich cakes from Black Hound, the chocolate bruno at Blue Ribbon, chocolate ice cream or macarons from La Maison du Chocolat, Kyotofu's chocolate miso cupcake, chocolate chocolate chip ice cream at East Village ice cream, thai chili chocolate gelato from Il Laboratorio de Gelato, chocolate covered champagne grapes (aka zante currants) from Scharffen Berger, chocolate dipped confections and chocolate bars from Jacques Torres, the best chocolate truffles/bonbons in town from Kee's, spicy hot chocolate from Vosges, chocolate croissant from Patisserie Claude or Ceci-Cela, chocolate bread from Balthazar, wichcraft's chocolate cupcake, chocolate bread pudding from Gramercy Tavern or the Dessert Truck, the chocolate "oyster" at Martine's, retro chocolate bars (salty pretzel!) from Chocolate Bar, TKO at Bouchon Bakery, old-fashioned turtles and chocolate covered fruits at Li-Lac, chocolate-chip cookies from Jack's Stir Brewed or Chikalicious Dessert Club...

              Too bad the Dessert Studio at Michel Cluizel closed down. You can still go after dinner and order chocolates there though. Other dessert bars you might be interested in are Chikalicious and p*ong. You might also want to stop in at the bar at WD-50 or Tailor and order dessert. Have also heard good things about Cocoa Bar on the LES.

          3. I'm not a fan of Max Brenner. For dessert alternatives, check out this thread:
            Otherwise, Kee's, Pierre Marcolini, and Maison du Chocolat are my favorite chocolate shops in town. PM and Kee's don't have seating. Maison du Chocolat has some limited seating. Jacques Torres is also fun and has some great alternatives (hot chocolate, cookies) to straight chocolate.

            1. If such things matter to you, note that Max Brenner received a 0 star review from the New York Times. If you must, just stop in and get an Italian hot chocolate to go. That is the only thing I would recommend there.

              What time are you planning your splurge? Many of the better and more well-known shops aren't open very late. If this is after dinner, and you wish for table service, there's not a whole lot that's comparable to Max Brenner (i.e., super chocolate-focused) AND stays open late.

              If you want a high quality chocolate splurge, consider La Maison du Chocolat, Kee's, Jacques Torres, Vosges, MarieBelle, or for a more experimental bent, the Will Goldfarb chocolate bar at Michel Cluizel inside the ABC Carpet and Home Store. Of those, Kee's is my favorite. La Maison, Vosges, and Jacques have seating but you must pay at the counter. Kee's does not have any seating. I imagine the Will Goldfarb bar is the closest to what you are looking for, but is much more experimental. It's also a little confusing to enter after ABC Carpet and Home closes -- you have to enter through a side entrance, through Lucy's tapas restaurant.

              If you are tied to that particular location (East Village), then definitely try Chikalicious (which is more nouveau and very cute, but also very small and popular) or perhaps Black Hound or Veniero's (not 100% chocolate focused but they have a wide variety of desserts).

              Note also that Chocolate Bar (which stocks a variety of products, including Jacques Torres chocolates) is moving from their West Village location to the East Village (7th Street between 1st and A) very soon, and would be within walking distance of Max Brenner. I imagine that they will steal much of Max Brenner's business when they open, as they plan to stay open late, and have higher quality offerings. I can't wait.


              Honorable EV chocolate mention should probably also include strolling down to Whole Foods Bowery, and having the thai chili chocolate gelato (from Il Lab counter).

              1. I can't speak for most of the desserts there (due to food allergies) but I really like their italian hot chocolate and the ice cream.

                1. One place that could be really fun for a family trip is the Dessert Truck, on University Place a block from WSP.

                  1. How unfortunate that a place that has Willy Wonka's chocolate factory potential written all over it has to suck so badly. I am going to take the kids to Shake Shack and and save my money!!
                    Maybe a few mini pastry's at Venieros and forgo the sticker shock and the sugar shock.
                    Thanks all for the response. I will learn from your mistakes!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: holldoll

                      I think Max B would be fine for your family and your kids would probably get a kick from it...unless they are haut chocolate connoisseurs?! My original suggestion of chikalicious would be inappropriate for a family thing I think...Max B is fun if not on the same level as the other choco houses in the city...

                    2. I think Max Brenner is great for kids, although I've never seen the appeal for adults. My 8-year old daughter always asks for it, and I have to either discourage her or change the topic, otherwise we'd be there every week.That being said, your kids might love it, and that's what parenting is all about. I sometimes get the kids to agree to go to dinner where I want, and use the chocolate as an incentive. If you go, I would recommend just going for dessert, and ordering some things to share. The ice cream fondue is pretty cool, and the crepes seem good. Portions are large (just because they're all sugar, and served on dinner size plates), so share a few things.

                      1. Dear Holldoll,
                        I think you and your family will have a better time at any of the other suggested places. There is also a wonderful ice cream shop, Sundaes and Cones, on 10th Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues. I live near Max Brenner and it really is a dreadful, inauthentic place and its chocolate is surprisingly poor quality.

                        1. My boyfriend and I went to Max Brenner's, got seated and walked out...they literally didnt have anthing on the menu that we ordered and were not apologetic about it in the least. Horrible experience!

                          1. My kids (8 and 13) love the place too, but they also love Il Laboratorio del Gelatto about 10 blocks down the road.

                            Jacque Torres on West St. is another of their favorites.

                            Personally, I prefer Chickalicious or Black Hound in the E Village and Kee's in the W Village but I am a dad and sometimes we make sacrifices.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: seal

                              Well we got out of dodge without a visit to Max B.
                              Instead had lunch at Shake Shack, the kids swooned!
                              Cupcakes at Buttercup (dry!!) Cookies at Levain and stopped at Jacques T just to browse.
                              Great time was had by all!

                            2. I agree that it's no good: besides the poor quality of the chocolate itself, the milk chocolate hot chocolate is way too sweet, the dark chocolate hot chocolate could be sweeter. But a kid might get a real giggle out of the idea of drinking hot chocolate out of a little cup that looks like a toilet! I went with my brother and we were reduced to hysterics (we're both adults) when we realized we were drinking hyped up hot chocolate from a ceramic bedpan. The Max Brenner closest to Union Square is the most amusement-park decorated location.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hungrycomposer

                                I knew all of this before I went and yet I still went because a friend wanted to try it. And you are all right. It was too corporate, overpowering, bad service and I'll try to never venture again. The coffee was terrible too.

                              2. Oh my, I ordered three items from the chocolate menu.. my boyfriend and I couldn't finish! It was just too much. It was ironic that when we looked up from eating we caught a glimpse of a poster that said "Stop it Max, this is already too much". Friendly service, interesting food. I heard their dinner menu isn't so good. Just go for the chocolate!