Winter is coming, and for most, that means a number of holiday traditions such as trips to the park for ice skating, bundling up in comfy clothes or sipping a large mug of something warm.
Just in time for the cold months ahead, Max Brenner, a chocolate bar-turned-bistro on 745 Boylston St., launched a new waffle menu to accompany their classic hot chocolate, in an attempt to marry the sweet and savory items on the traditional menu and continue their legacy of innovation.
Nothing about Max Brenner says “kitschy quaint chocolate shoppe.” Step inside the Boylston location, and you’re greeted by music you might expect to hear in a club and a full-service bar showcasing chocolate cocktails. As opposed to catering to kids, as many chocolate stores do, Max Brenner has a different clientele in mind — twenty-something’s looking for a fun way to keep their inner child alive while indulging in something sweet.
They succeed, there’s no doubt. The whole menu should seem childish, but it actually isn’t. Fritters with a nacho cheese dipping sauce are really “sweet corn croquettes with Manchego,” but that doesn’t make them any less addictive. Waffle sandwiches are classed up with prosciutto and lightly-dressed arugula. The classic chocolate milkshake tastes sophisticated with hazelnut — and who doesn’t love that pairing?
But when people think chocolate, especially when it’s cold outside, one thing comes to mind. Hot chocolate. Max Brenner’s hot chocolate ruins other hot chocolate for you because it allows you to experience the drink in a whole new way. The design of the cup (a “hug mug”) traps the steam and intentionally directs it toward your face, so you can smell the chocolate and the caramel and feel the warmth on your cheeks and lips. Holding the mug, which is shaped a bit like a pod, allows memories of sitting next to fireplaces in snowy cabins to surface. The first sip is seductive and sweet, “grown up” in some ways yet cozy and comforting in others.
After all, chocolate is playful, but it also reminds us of our childhoods. Max Brenner makes chocolate into something you can genuinely enjoy as you transition into adulthood, because holding on to our inner child doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
College, more than any other time in your life, reflects the Max Brenner attitude. We’re too young to call ourselves adults, enjoy a nice glass of wine and talk about the kids at a stuffy restaurant in the Financial District. Yet, going to college — especially in a large, urban setting — means finding independence, experiencing life, going out into the world and having fun, not staying in and sticking with the past. It’s about being nostalgic, but looking forward. Max Brenner does the exact same thing.
The food at Max Brenner wavers in quality. The veggie sandwiches taste a bit bland, and the chocolate peanut-butter crepe, while delicious in its first bite, overwhelms afterward. The experience of Max Brenner, on the other hand, never falters. You have fun, regardless.
So, is it a good restaurant? That depends, but ultimately Max Brenner isn’t a restaurant — it’s a brand, an experience of chocolate that has been structured for you by a massive team of young minds, from the mugs to the music to the menu. It doesn’t feel corporate, however, and that’s what makes it successful. It’s youthful, ever changing and fun. So in these winter months, Max Brenner is a great place to reconnect with your inner child and enjoy a hot chocolate. It’s also a great place to be young all year round.