By Rachel Leah Blumenthal

I feel like I should be led into Max Brenner by an eccentric man in a purple coat, swinging a cane and singing about imagination. There is no chocolate lake here, but there might as well be. It’s chocolate, chocolate everywhere, and all of it to drink and eat and slather on as body lotion. Max Brenner — “chocolate by the bald man” — is a rich, sweet heaven for chocoholics (and hell for dieters). Dine in, buy gifts, or just stare in awe. There’s something for every sweet tooth.

Part store and part restaurant, Max Brenner offers an extensive dessert and drink menu that will make you gain weight as you flip through the pages. Many of the cocktails are actually “chocktails” — chocolate-based. If you’re in the mood, go for the “chocolate aphrodisiacs” section of the drink menu. Based on the waitress’ recommendation, I tried the Satisfaction Guaranteed: peanut and caramel liqueur and milk chocolate served in a stemless martini glass balanced in a bowl of ice, accompanied by a tiny beaker of more of the same drink, plus a little dish of chocolate-roasted peanuts. (Satisfaction? Achieved.)

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For colder weather, try one of several hot chocolate options, served in a Hug Mug, “a specially designed mug for the hot chocolate drinking ceremony…shaped so that you can hug it in both hands to create the ultimate experience of coziness, warmth and fragrance.”

As for dessert, you’ll find everything from waffles to fondue to milkshakes to crepes, not to mention a generous selection of cakes, cookies, and ice cream. Indecisive? Try the “Sharing” – a tasting for two which includes small portions of fondue, a banana split waffle, chocolate sponge cake, and the most intriguing, a crispy chocolate eggroll.

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There’s non-dessert food available as well, but let’s get real. You came here for a chocktail and dessert. That’s what Max Brenner is here for: to give us chocolate. Everything else is irrelevant.

Much like Willy Wonka’s world, nothing at Max Brenner is quite what it seems on the surface. Once you get beyond the beautiful presentation, the desserts range from standard to pretty good, but nothing is truly awe-inspiring. When it comes down to it, it’s comfort food with a fairly high price tag (and a disastrous sugar crash once you head home). It’s certainly fun and romantic – it’d be a perfect spot for a first date or a girls’ night out – but better (and cheaper) desserts can be found elsewhere. A suggestion: make it a date night and leave the kiddies at home. Think you can bring children here and get out with your sanity and wallet intact? Pure imagination.

Max Brenner

745 Boylston St.
Boston, MA
(617) 274-1741
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m. – till very late night.; Sat – Sun (Brunch) 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sat – Sun (Full
Dining & Bar) 3 p.m. till late

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Rachel Leah Blumenthal is a Somerville-based writer, photographer, and musician. She writes about food on her blog, Fork it over, Boston!, and runs Boston Food Bloggers, a networking community. For more information, visit