For months now I've been fascinated with the opening of Max Brenner since the giant blow-up rat appeared on Boylston street in protest of the chain's apparent use of non-union construction workers. Elsewhere around the world the chain has been boycotted for its connections to Israel. When it opened last week scores of union workers stood outside handing out pamphlets and discouraging people from entering. This was a place I was interested in checking out.
Walking into the restaurant it's clear that the theme is centered around "Max Brenner Chocolate Culture" as the entire place smells like chocolate. To the left is what would best be described as a gift shop with various chocolate products, to the right is a long bar, and ahead is the main dining area. The atmosphere reminded me of Cheesecake Factory given the warm browns, oranges, and reds throughout.
The menu is huge, with everything from white chocolate cheesecake crêpes to the chubby smoked turkey club. There is a wide variety of chocolate-based beverages like hot chocolate, chocolate chai tea, and a mocha frappé using cocoa from all over the world. Since it was brunch time we decided to go with something sweet and something savory and split them.
I opted for the "illegal chocolate chocolate chocolate pancakes" with 60% dark chocolate truffle cream, pure milk chocolate shavings, spiced pecans, caramelized bananas. This arrived very nicely arranged with two cute beakers of white and dark chocolate sauces. The 3 pancakes were tasty enough, and it was an overall very chocolatey experience. At around 15 dollars I would have to say they were overpriced, but I was by no means disappointed.
Our other dish was the "Sliced & Diced Steak “Pillow” Panini" -char-grilled & thin sliced skirt steak tossed with
diced caramelized onions on a bed of asiago cheese crisps, baby spinach, roasted tomatoes, red pepper aioli. Underwhelming. For as much good stuff as there was in there it should have tasted better - more salt? Nonetheless the bread was nice and crisp and light, and the beef was good as well. The best part was the waffle fries dusted with chili and cocoa powder. Though I didn't get much of the chili and cocoa powder, it's hard to make a bad-tasting waffle fry, especially dipped in the red pepper aioli served alongside the panini. At about 16 this dish, too, was overpriced for what it was.
Overall I'd have to say I was disappointed. The food was okay, the prices were too high, and the atmosphere was non-descript. I will say, however, that some of their sweets like the "chocolate chunks pizza" and the "deep fudge chocolate cake & shake" do sound delicious, so if I were to find myself with a sweet craving I would consider coming back.