Max Brenner might as well be referred to as the Willy Wonka of the Back Bay. One step inside this new restaurant and you’d swear they were pumping cocoa powder through the air ducts. The hostess mentioned this was not the case – the aroma was in fact coming from the chocolate shop in front of the dining area. Full of gourmet chocolate sweets & treats as well as chocolate infused lotions & soaps, I was like a kid in a candy store (literally). But alas, real food awaits and we were led through the circular room to our table. “Chocolate by the Bald Man” was everywhere you turned, in candy dispensers surrounding the diners, in the center of the room in glass containers, inticing you every step of the way.
Bread: I was so excited to be surrounded by chocolate that I just now noticed that we didn’t receive bread!! Weird, I always notice when food is missing…
Menu: We were presented with 2 menus, one being the dinner & drinks menu and the other a dessert/dessert drinks menu, both of which are overwhelming in a good why. “First Food Then Chocolate” as their slogan goes… the dinner menu consisted of sections such as: Rise & Shine, Slider Bar, Things to Dip, Crispy & Delicious, Food on a Stick, Max’s Pizzas, Tossed Around, For Your Hands, With a Knife and Fork, Entertaining Side Dishes. I was in a sandwich kind of mood, had 3 in mind, and our waiter encouraged me towards the tuna salad sandwich.
The Unforgettable Spicy Tuna Salad Sandwich – tomato, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, crushed bbq chips brushed with cilantro & avocado mayo
My sandwich was cut in half and separated on a wooden slab by cocoa & chili powder dusted waffle fries, chipotle aioli, and dill pickles. I was very pleased to see there were only 5 or so fries in the small glass. The brioche bun of the sandwich was soft and buttery, the tuna was well dressed (not too much mayo), but it wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting. I also didn’t notice the BBQ chips – I think they were mixed in with the tuna salad rather than placed on top as a condiment. I nitpick, but it was definitely delicious!
Milk Chocolate Apple Caramel Crisp – oatmeal streusel, toffee ice cream, pure melted cinnamon chocolate
Straight from the laboratory! Served on a graph paper glass dish with a small cup of toffee ice cream, a beaker of extra toffee sauce, and a cast iron pot of warm apple crisp. The crisp itself was more of a hard crust which was tasty, but the apples themselves weren’t great (too mushy for my liking). If you dig, there’s a chocolate surprising underneath the apples which added an extra richness.
Bathroom: Lights! Lights would be good here! The bathroom was so dark I couldn’t even take a picture (I use my ancient iPhone 3G without a flash). Small, with three stalls, and matching floor & wall patterned tiles. The mirror told me “You Look Extremely Good Today” (written on the bottom) and I wasn’t about to argue.
Wait Staff: Shayne was fantastic. He was excited this was our first time in the restaurant and made it clear that he would be available and willing to follow through with any request we had (including charging my cell phone in a back room so that I could take pictures of my entrée!). Genuine and very accommodating!
Overall: A fun and interesting new addition to Boylston Street! Prices aren’t outrageous, multiple food options are available, atmosphere is quirky and delicious (in sight & smell). A great spot for just dessert (Chocolate Surprise Tiramisu is next), hot chocolate on a chilly day (the options are endless & amazing), or a post-dinner coffee (Baileys cappuccino).
We received our check in a tin expressing “Money For Life, Chocolate For The Soul”. Inside I was expecting some type of after-dinner mint/chocolate, but to no avail! Why have a decorative tin with only the bill inside? A bit disappointing, considering we were surrounded by dozens of little chocolate treats.
The Perfect Bite: A bite of the Tuna Salad Sandwich with a smear of chipotle aioli. Next time I’ll add slices of avocado!