October 4th, 2006


A Rare Post About Food and Restaurants

I don't normally write about food in this journal. I enjoy a fine meal as much as the next person, but I don't consider myself a foodie, so I leave the food talk to connoisseurs like rosefox and docbrite.

But I have to talk about Max Brenner's new restaurant in New York City. It's on Broadway between 13th and 14th streets, but the moment you walk inside, it feels so chocolatey-European you could easily be in Germany or Switzerland. Everything is about chocolate. Everything looks like chocolate. There are big brown pipes running everywhere with the words "100% pure chocolate" stenciled on the sides, and while I'm sure they were purely decorative, their presence makes you wonder where Willy Wonka and Oompah-Loompahs are.

It's a restaurant as well as a chocolatier, but the food was only so-so. rosefox's lasanga was part hot and part cold, as if it had been reheated in a microwave. My sausage was good, though also strangely underheated. But who cares, it's about the chocolate, and the chocolate fondue we had for dessert was out of the world. Bananas, strawberries, marshmallows (with the world's weakest flame to try to toast them on), bits of waffle-like bread, and two bowls of melted chocolate: one dark, one milk. You can also get white chocolate, but dark's definitely the way to go for fondue (we barely touched the milk chocolate). I predicted I'd be chocolated out by the time we finished, and I was right. The very idea of chocolate is too much for me to handle right now, and I'm tempted to say I'll never eat it again, but who am I kidding? It's chocolate.

The place really needs to be seen to be believed. I'm tempted to call it grossly overdesigned, except I really like the way it looks. In addition to the fake chocolate pipes, the floor tiles are decorated with the same design Brenner puts on his truffles, the wooden sideboards were made to look like the squares of a chocolate bar, and the bill was delivered to our table in an old-style candy tin. Though I didn't order it myself, they have specially designed cups for the perfect hot chocolate drinking experience - called hug mugs, they're shaped to fit between your palms for a two-handed sip. I also noticed special cups for chocolate milk.

It's definitely a special occasion type of restaurant, a great place for a date or a family outing. Check it out if you're in the area.

(Oh, and we also passed a crew filming Will Smith's I Am Legend on East 4th Street, blocking off Tower Video. The walkie-talkie guy we spoke to on the corner seemed surprised to learn it was based on a book.)