New chocolate culture

The new location at 15th and Walnut streets has an enchanting atmosphere and is a sweet tooth’s paradise.

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Located at 15th and Walnut streets, Max Brenner features a large menu that revolves around creative uses of chocolate.

If you’re the kind of person who wants chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you have to check out Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man. The international chain, which recently opened its second U.S. location in Center City, at 15th and Walnut streets, calls itself the “new chocolate culture.”

Founded in 1996 in Israel by fledgling chocolatiers Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, Max Brenner opened its first restaurant in the U.S. in New York City two years ago.

Serving more chocalatey dishes than your taste buds can imagine, from martinis to pizza, Max Brenner ships its chocolate in from Israel, Belgium and Venezuela.

The atmosphere sets the mood for exploring a new world of pure decadent gluttony. With the smell of gourmet chocolate in the air, jazz music fills the place by day, with R&B tunes playing by night.

The restaurant’s logo of the fictional Bald Man himself cover the walls, which are also lined with enriching, colorful paintings alongside towering chocolate shelves. And, with its closing time of 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, Max Brenner is the ideal spot for late-night dining with friends.

“The Martinis are like chocolate with a kick,” waitress Anne-Marie Gutierrez said. “And the Eighties Milkshake is definitely one of my favorites.”

The drinks menu boasts a wide selection of chocolate-infused beverages including Choctails, a thick milkshake made with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, topped with a floating scoop of vanilla and covered with crunchy chocolate. These delicious Choctail blends are served in an “Alice” glass, designed with Lewis Carroll’s classic star in mind.

“The straw of the cup represents the hole that Alice falls down,” Gutierrez said, “and the shape of the glass is actually the smile of the Cheshire Cat.”

The Alice glass may be unparalleled, but the Hug Mug comes in a close second in creativity. Designed in the shape of a teardrop to hold in the palm of your hands, the Hug Mug allows patrons to enjoy the drink’s every warm chocolaty taste without hesitation.

“Holding the mug close to your face and smelling the hot chocolate really makes the experience,” Gutierrez said.

But Brenner’s chocolate culture comes with more than Cheshire Cat smiles and snuggly mugs. The menu’s appetizers and entrées will surprise your taste buds after just one visit.

Brenner’s menu is jam-packed with meals of nearly every kind. There are potato skins with smoked bacon and melted cheddar, Tossed Around Southwestern Caesar salad, Max’s Sunday Mood pasta and Brenner Burgers, which are served with waffle fries.

“I love the chicken wings,” Manager Allan Beardslee said. “They taste amazing.”

The Smokey Dry Rub chicken wings are a little spicy but covered in a delicious sauce and served with an original recipe blue cheese.

Brenner’s has a delectable oven-roasted tomato pizza for dinner as well, or you can save pizza for dessert like Manager Megan Scott.

“The chocolate pizza is my favorite,” she said. “It’s quite an experience.”

The restaurant’s phocolate pizza is a thin pastry topped with double melted chocolate chunks, melted marshmallows and chunky hazelnut bits.

Max Brenner doesn’t simply offer a candy bar or fondue, and the experience is about more than just eating good chocolate – it’s tasting chocolate with every one of your senses and bringing chocolate fantasies to life.

Maria Cannon can be reached at maria.cannon@temple.edu.

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