Happy National Chocolate Day! It is finally fall here in Philadelphia and with the change of the season, Max Brenner celebrated its 20th anniversary with a new fall menu filled with “sugar, and spice, and everything nice” to warm our bellies. Although Max Brenner is known for its luxuriously decadent chocolate desserts (which definitely live up to their reputation), its Philadelphia location also offers an incredible variety of equally indulgent savory dishes.
Max Brenner, a restaurant concept inspired by Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is dedicated to offering its customers a chocolate experience that allows you to connect with the sweet treat like never before. Founded in Israel, it now has over 50 locations worldwide with one of its three locations in the United States being right in our beautiful city of Philadelphia.
The first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant is a giant pipe along the ceiling of the room containing 100% pure liquid chocolate — now that is dedication. The rich aromas of chocolate and spices awaken your appetite as you enter.
We were welcomed with a tall Apple Pie milkshake, one of their fall specialties. We sat down to sip on our creamy white-chocolate-ganache-filled cups topped with whipped cream and sticky apple pie filling; it was the perfect sweet beginning.
The first dish we were served was the fall exclusive appetizer,’Sweet Potato Tots’. These are not the ordinary greasy tater tots you find at your local fast food joint. These were pillowy bites, carefully crafted by shredding raw sweet potatoes as fast as possible and freezing them before shaping them into balls and frying them in sizzling oil; there is no batter, just pure sweet potato. This method results in a light and slightly sweet tater tot that pairs perfectly with the spicy aioli. We cleaned out the bowl before they even had time to cool off!
The second dish was a fresh yet hearty fall salad. Employing beautiful autumn produce, the salad combined sweet squash, salty prosciutto, crunchy walnuts, spicy arugula, creamy goat cheese, juicy white corn, and a simple tangy dressing to make a perfectly balanced salad. My favorite part was the cinnamon maple glazed walnuts crumbled on top, which definitely made it feel like fall is finally here.
Next, came the big main course: the whopping “Max’d Out Patty Melt”, one of Max Brenner’s unique burgers. It’s a juicy beef patty sandwiched between two buttery grilled cheeses. What’s not to love?
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, they can make a “Max’d Out Vegan Melt” that has a sweet pea and chickpea patty in between two red pepper hummus sandwiches.
Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t possibly go to Max Brenner without having dessert! We were served two desserts and a ‘Pumpkin Spice Mocha’ hot chocolate served in their signature “hug mug”. This drink is the perfect way to keep your hands and soul warm for the cold Philly fall weather. The bitterness of the coffee balances the sweetness of the chocolate, and the classic pumpkin pie spice adds just the right amount of pizazz. Delicious!
Their signature crepe was dressed up with some bourbon infused apple compote, fall spice crumble and served with a sticky caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. The crunchy, buttery crepe added a slightly salty bite to counter the sweetness of the apples and caramel. We were in heaven.
As if that wasn’t enough sugar for the day, we ended on their classic chocolate fondue. We were given little pots filled with melted white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate to dip the homemade baked goods in. They had homemade banana bread slices, mini blueberry muffins, and gooey peanut butter and jelly bars to pair with each of their chocolates. You can mix and match or just enjoy each on their own! Even though our jeans were tight, we couldn’t resist but take a couple more bites of each.
We were wondering how the chef came up with these insanely delicious fall plates perfect for this time of year, so we asked him:
“My biggest food critic is my wife[…] I love criticism,” he laughed.
Experimentation is key for creating new and exciting dishes like the ones on this fall menu. He never gives up and he always strives to make his food even better.
There is no doubt that he really outdid himself this time. His new 2016 fall menu is an absolute killer and perfectly reflects the warm, cozy, fuzzy feelings you get right around this time of year. We highly recommend you pay Max Brenners a visit to try the new fall menu, just make sure you come hungry!
Photography by Leah Sprague
Article by Jennifer Higa