Following afternoon tea at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in New York City last week, Loreen and I decided to try to find Strand book store (its inventory includes new, used, out of print and rare books, and you can get some really good deals).
As we passed through Union Square heading down Broadway Avenue, Loreen suddenly uttered those magic words I love to hear – “I’m pretty sure there’s a chocolate shop around here somewhere.”
Sure enough, within a few blocks we had stumbled upon Max Brenner’s Chocolate by the Bald Man.
We were not in the least bit hungry considering what we’d just eaten at Lady Mendl’s, but as a serious chocoholic, I was compelled to go in and check the place out. Loreen loves chocolate too; she didn’t need any convincing to make this stop.
Stepping into the store was like entering chocolate heaven. These pictures might help to explain but you really have to experience the place in person to get the full effect.
Chocolate by the Bald Man is an eat in/take out restaurant and a gift shop designed to appeal to chocolate lovers and potential chocolate lovers. Brown ceiling pipes run overhead (no doubt carrying chocolate!!), and light and dark brown, beige, and caramel colours are used throughout. Solid blocks of chocolate and vats of melted chocolate help to decorate the space.
You can sit down for a bite or take away something that looks and sounds delectable. The menu is not all chocolate-based but it does boast quite a few chocolatey desserts as well as a few unique savoury options like Waffle Fries dusted with chili and cocoa powder and Black and Tan Beer Battered Vidalia Rings with Dark Chocolate Ranch Dressing. Crepes, quesadillas, pastas, pizzas, salads and burgers round out the rest of the menu which is creatively divided into categories such as Things to Dip, Food on a Stick, Tossed Around, and For Your Hands.
If you don’t want to eat anything, you can buy chocolates or drinking chocolate mix or chocolate gift or spa items. The Hug Mugs (cocoa bean-shaped mugs designed to be cupped) caught my attention and look like a fun way to enjoy hot chocolate.
At the take-out counter, a display case contains chocolate pizza and other baked goods as well as syringes filled with chocolate. That’s one shot I wouldn’t mind taking.
Just exactly who is Max Brenner, the balding chocolate lover? In fact, there actually is no such person. The business was created by two Israeli business men, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner. Fichtman is no longer involved. Brenner still is, and apparently resembles the caricature of the bald man (or perhaps it’s vice versa). There are Max Brenner stores in a few countries including Israel, Austrialia and Singapore.
Whether the food or the chocolate tastes any good is a mystery we’ll have to solve on our next visit. As hard as it is to believe, we left empty-handed, vowing to return with empty stomachs another time.
Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man
* Union Square
841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Streets)
* East Village
141 2nd Avenue (at 8th Street)