“Chocolate by the Bald Man”. A bold and enticing statement if ever there was one. In a world increasingly obsessed with weight and health, two Israeli chocolatiers are boldly bucking trend. Named after its two founders, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, Max Brenner. With equal parts rich decadence and fanciful whimsy, this chocolate chain is melting the hearts of both young and old. But it isn’t all sweets and lavish desserts, pop in to try Molly’s White Corn Croquettes, with house seasoned white corn & machego cheese balls dusted in panko bread crumbs & lightly fried. Or perhaps the Sloppy Max is more your style, served with bbq pulled pork & creamy slaw on soft brioche style bun (with waffle fries on the side, dusted with chili and cocoa powder!). Of course, when the word ‘chocolate’ is the first word in your mission statement, you’d better believe you can get a healthy dose of that at Max Brenner!Read More ...
Las Vegas is a serious town. Its status as the elite playground for grown-ups is a multi-billion dollar industry that means serious money for those who know how to get it. For a city so completely serious they even take having fun seriously; it’s nice to know there is a bastion of hope for those still looking for those types of places that aren’t so solemn in their quest to provide a good time for their guests. This is not to say Max Brenner doesn’t place the utmost importance on providing the best possible product they can, they simply aren’t so…austere about it. For example, their tagline is “Chocolate by the Bald Man”. A bold, simple statement that makes you giggle a little on the inside, but also commands high expectations for their services and products.
Max Brenner was founded in 1995 in Ra’anana, Israel, by the minds of Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner. Brenner spent six years prior learning the art of chocolate-making in Paris channeling not only his inner Willy Wonka, but also from the inspiration he got from his first love Anna, who could not fall asleep without delving into a piece of chocolate first, to construct the philosophy and secret chocolate recipe they use in their stores today. And there are many stores, worldwide in fact. Chocolate lovers can find Max Brenner chocolate boutiques in Israel, Australia, Philippines, and Singapore. And in the United States, Max Brenner Restaurants have popped up in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and now Las Vegas creating not only the indulgent “chocolate mood” but also an all-encompassing, eclectic menu full of dishes ranging from omelets to tacos to pasta. Not to mention, they have a therapeutic Sunday Brunch that could easily put you back on the right track after a Saturday night in Vegas. Name the meal, Max Brenner’s got the ticket.
Buffeted by the beginnings of what eventually turns out to be a pretty severe windstorm (Apparently Vegas even takes its storms seriously.), we take refuge in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s, and happily head straight for Max Brenner’s for an afternoon feast. The Forum Shops house classy, highbrow boutiques, the likes that offer items like off-the-runway garments and the latest high-tech gadget. Our chocolate oasis is located on the 2nd level near shops Emporio Armani, Montblanc, and Apple. Stepping into Max Brenner, the interior is like nothing I have ever seen. It has a deep rich tone with dark leather seats and brass accents everywhere. If Mr.Wonka opened his chocolate factory in Las Vegas instead of London, I imagine this is about what he would have envisioned.
We are seated by the cheerful hostess and immediately greeted by Melissa our server. She understands we’re overwhelmed without us even to mentioning it and suggests we get a few drinks and “digest” the menu. I start out with a Young’s Chocolate Stout, thinking I’m being super-chocolate savvy, only to have the manager, Scott Adriance, roll over and set us on the path of perfection. He sets us up with an Intoxicake and a Chocolate Martini to start. I’m nervous at first, as dessert martinis are not usually how I start off lunch, but when in Rome (or Caesar’s Forum, which is close.), right? The matinis come and the first thing I notice is how rich and delightful they are without being overly sweet. They almost ask you to delve a little more in to them without giving you any hint of being a finishing drink.
Due to our windswept befuddlement, we have a hard time deciding what we should eat off the ridiculously enticing menu set before us. After a brief discussion with Melissa and a little help from Scott, we decide it’s in our best interest to leave our dining fate in the hands of the experts, and let the staff of Max Brenner go to work on our dining experience.
We start off the meal with Molly’s White Corn Croquettes. Scott comes by again and tells us they are made fresh daily, and one can see immediately the difference in taste between these and the freezer versions too many of us have unfortunately come in to contact with over the course of our lives. They are served hot and fresh with a hint of paprika that offers a slight insinuation of spice and a chili aioli that again reinforces the spice with a touch of smokiness. The croquettes are crispy and delicious and somehow have managed to walk the fine line between freshly hot and scalding. You know how certain fried food burns the bejesus out of your tongue and mouth? Somehow Max Brenner has found the secret recipe to deliver hot and fresh food to your pie hole without scalding it.
Up next, we have their Asian Chicken and Soba Salad. As you might expect from Asian chicken salad, it has the traditional wontons, sesame peanut dressing and of course, the chicken. What you will not see coming is the subtle and unexpected hint of cilantro that adds just the right kick to the salad without overpowering the other flavor mixtures. The red and yellow bell peppers combined with the jicama make for a light, natural flavor with a touch of the playfulness that Max Brenner is known for having.
We are also brought their famous Baja fish tacos (aptly named on the menu, “Yummy Baja Style Fish Tacos”… go figure). Now the menu says they’re served on corn tortillas and stuffed with mango salsa, rice, and beans. But don’t let the deceptively sparse menu description lead you astray. These tacos are piled high with messy goodness, and from the light fish to the chipotle sour cream, these not-so-little guys will have you begging for their citrusy-mango goodness before you even know what hit you.
Along with the tacos, during our increasingly laughable ‘appetizer’ course, they present us with a Spicy Chicken and 3 Cheese Pizza. Not your average deep-dish pizza, this is an artisanal flat-bread style pie, with jalapenos, black beans, cilantro and of course, the chicken and three cheeses (goat, mozzarella, and cheddar). We are immediately entranced by the layers of texture in this pizza, and both my date and I comment on how the beans balance out the spice from the jalapeno salsa and the creaminess of the cheese combo.
For the latter part of the meal (to call this part of our feast the entrée would be a disservice to the delectable eats we have thus far encountered), we are presented with their Really Cheesey-Really Crunchy Mac and Cheese, and their all-time classic, aptly named Brenner Burger. Now, I’m no three-star Michelin Chef or anything, but I’ve been around the restaurant block a time or two. And if you’re going to claim menu items like mac n’ cheese and a cheeseburger, you better come correct.
Max Brenner’s mac n’ cheese is in a word…legit. If Merriam Webster were to ever illustrate its dictionary, the picture next to ‘American Comfort Food’ just might be this mac n’ cheese. Loaded (and I do mean loaded) with applewood smoked bacon, this mac made with a proprietary five cheese blend is to die for. Crispy on top and oozing with cheesy goodness, this dish is what macaroni noodles were invented for. To top it off, it comes with a side beaker (yes, a beaker) of marinara to add a little tomato zest to your cheesy goodness.
The Brenner Burger is in a class of its own. Scott comes by to check on us, and tells us it’s their best seller bar far. This is obviously for one reason…it is ridiculously delicious. Huge and high, the 100% Angus patty is juicy and cooked to show just a little pink. Scott tells us there is kobe beef version available as well, and I make mental note to come back ASAP to try that out. In addition to this magnificent hunk of beef, there are cris-cut fries on the side of the plate that almost deserver their own place on the menu. They are, in a word, unbelievable.
Just as we’re thinking we might waddle to the door…dessert is brought out. Not content with one of their desirable delectables, we are brought forth a sampling of three. Their classic fondue with caramel, milk, and dark chocolate dips, the Banana Split Waffle, and the Euphoria Sundae. I don’t want to spoil the surprise about the sundae, but suffice to say… there is peanut butter involved, and you might have to go to confession afterward. I’m not saying it’s a sin to have one, but just to be on the safe side.
At the end of our experience (trust me, it wasn’t a meal, it was a full-on experience), I find myself finishing off the aforementioned Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, while my date ends her meal with a Chocolate Chai tea. The tea is reminiscent of the earlier martinis in that they are sweet without being overbearing. The spicy leaves of the tea counterbalance the sweet richness of the chocolate amazingly well.
We end our meal wondering how a place so well known for their chocolatier-ing could have possibly exceeded our culinary expectations by so far. This is a place that uses its own giant bars (bars might be the wrong word…they were bona fide slabs) of chocolate as both inventory and decoration. How in the world did this Wonka-esque restaurant in the middle of the Nevada Desert end up serving us some of the best American comfort food we had had in years? And then send us on our merry way with exquisite, world-class chocolate? Only in Vegas can a place so whimsical give you such a seriously good experience.
Insider’s Tip: Come for the chocolate, stay for the… everything else they offer. Not only do they run some of the best chocolate this side of foreign films, but the dining is stupendous. And don’t worry about fitting your whole crew in to this medium sized restaurant… They have not one, but two private dining rooms. One is called simply, ‘The VIP,’ and the other is lovingly referred to by Max Brenner’s amazing staff as ‘The Choctogon’. For obvious reasons, that is the one I would encourage you to book.
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My first time at the Max Brenner Restaurant inside the Caesar's Forum Shops. Everything was wonderful. From the time of arrival to our departure. Customer service was outstanding. Food was wonderful. There were 18 in attendance for my Son Richard's 23rd birthday party. Everyone loved it and loved their entrees. We will all be back again. Thanks to all the staff for making our first time experience wonderful...
I recently took my daughter to Las Vegas for her 21st birthday and we literally ate our way through the vacation! Max Brenner's Chocolate Restaurant was a highlight! Come hungry and splurge on the fondue and specialty beverages!
I chose this restaurant because they had a good variety of choices on their menu, something for everyone and the prices were very reasonable. Though, reasonable on their food prices, the cocktail prices were spendy, but tasty. The service was excellent , our server even took time to take a couple of pictures for us! Our food was excellent, no complaints from any if the 9 in our party! I will definitely recommend them to my friends! A great way to celebrate my 50th birthday!
Went on Thursday for a brunch and had the omelet with the Italian Hot Chocolate which I found too sweet and rich. Omelet was excellent but to big. My boyfriend had the Cappuccino and French Toast. These were great.
great service and very clean
Very loud Mall type restaurant. Our service was poor and the food was worse, with the exception of the macaroni and cheese, which is very good. I would not suggest this for anyone who is looking for an evening out with friends.