‘Chocolate by the Bald Man’ takes guests back to childhood

Philly’s unique Max Brenner’s encourages dessert first 

The Belgian waffles topped with ice cream, fruit, and chocolate is pictured from Max Brenner's menu.

Photo courtesy of maxbrenner.com

The Belgian waffles topped with ice cream, fruit, and chocolate is pictured from Max Brenner’s menu.

Jamie Ford, Copy Editor

Max Brenner’s is commonly known to frequent visitors, both young and old, as “Chocolate by the Bald Man.” This moniker captures the true magic of the restaurant: it exudes an air of childlike wonder which creates a stress-free, joyous environment. Every patron who is greeted at Max Brenner’s taps into his childhood. This ambiance is accentuated when he is seated and met with a intriguing menu consisting of options such as the “Oozing Mac & Cheese Burger” and a “Chocolate First – Aid Kit” which practically urge clientele to play with their food. The dessert menu, being longer than the entrée menu, encourages restaurant -goers to indulge in childlike dining and eat dessert first. 

In the heart of Philly, Max Brenner’s is situated near multiple world-renowned theatres such as the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center, and Merriam Theatre. Additionally, the restaurant is a six minute walk from Suburban Station, encouraging guests to spend a day exploring Philly in addition to dining at one of the city’s best restaurants. The spaciousness of Max Brenner’s is nothing to be applauded, but the usage of the space itself, however, is.  Retail space in Philly is hard to come by and very expensive, but they make the most of what they have with creative and space-effective seating and clever decor which constructs a cozy atmosphere. 

Though the price of Max Brenner’s isn’t necessarily high enough to deter customers, their prices are a bit above what most would consider fair. For example, their famous beer-battered onion rings are $7.50 per serving and a quesadilla is $14. Again, though this indicates that prices do tend to run rather high, guests to Max Brenner’s are paying for an experience as well as for food. 

If there was one aspect of Max Brenner’s worthy of complaints, it would be the crowdedness resulting in rushed service. Of course, a restaurant with the captivating atmosphere and unique personality Max Brenner’s boasts obviously comes with a crowd. However, this is detrimental to the service as the stress of the restaurant industry is tangible in the manner in which the servers conduct themselves. Their hurriedness seeps into their impatient language and lack of overall friendliness and hospitality which would have put Max Brenner’s at the top of any Philly family restaurant review. This flaw, however, is not enough to tarnish the glowing reputation of Chocolate by the Bald Man. 

Any patron can confirm that what makes or breaks a restaurant is the food. Though the atmosphere and unique personality of the restaurant are applaudable, the glowing high point of Max Brenner’s is the food. 

Simply put, it is, in almost every dish, cooked to perfection. A dining experience at Max Brenner’s would appease any adult, but more impressively, any child. No amounts of cheese and chocolate are considered excessive, and this opens a gateway to delectable appetizers, entrées, and desserts. 

Their “Oozing Mac & Cheese” is just that: oozing. Their hot chocolates are incredibly rich and not unlike the result of melting pure chocolate and pouring it into a trademark Hug Mug. Their dishes are additionally served in an elaborate and fun manner, with oversized syringes filled with marinara and complex tea infusers which could be mistaken for a toy. The experience adds to the frivolous, notoriously childlike atmosphere of Max Brenner’s and allows guests to relax and enjoy the incredible dishes. 

Any patron who is acquainted with the atmosphere, the food, and the experience that Chocolate by the Bald Man has to offer would agree that Max Brenner’s is not just a restaurant worth visiting the next time you’re in the city. It’s a restaurant worth making the trip to Philly for.