Just walking into this place almost floored me -- the smell of chocolate hits you like a ton of bricks. And I'm not talking candy bar chocolate... I'm talking that deep, body-warming chocolate that makes you want to curl up in that very spot with one of their hug mugs and then take a nap. No? Just me? Meh.
The regular dinner ("real food") menu had a good bit of variety, with the focus on smaller casual bites rather than fancy or expensive portions. Smart for a place that really wants you to save room for dessert. I ordered the Flank Steak and Mushroom Quesadilla, and Rachel ordered the Veggie Conscious Burger.
Both were gorgeous (you eat with your eyes first, after all) and delicious. My quesadilla was loaded with mushrooms and the steak was super tender. Rachel said her burger was the best veggie burger she'd had, putting those premade veggie patties to shame. Oh, and get this... the waffle French fries were dusted lightly with chili and cocoa powders for a refreshing and mouth-watering update on the classic side dish. Sweet goodness.
Of course we had to have dessert despite the fact that we were completely satisfied by dinner alone. This is where things became overwhelming (in a good way). The sweets menu boasts 55 items. 55. That's way more than the "regular food" menu. We wanted something unlike anything we'd ever had before, and after a complicated (read: indecisive) selection process, we selected the Banana Split Waffles, pictured at the top of the sweets menu.
Amazing. I'm not normally a fan of bananas in desserts but this was done so well. Chocolate covered crispies, vanilla bourbon ice cream (and you could certainly taste the bourbon), and chocolate sauce were given to "decorate" the bananas and waffle. I'm not kidding when I say that I can smell the restaurant at this moment. I guess whoever said that smell is the sense tied most closely to human memory frequented Max Brenner's in his day.
All in all, a great experience. So much so that we considered going back the next night, but our already packed itinerary stopped us. I'd recommend this place to anyone, even people who aren't crazy about chocolate. Sure, it's the appeal of this place but our dinner was great on its own and the dessert menu boasts so many options that everyone is sure to find something. If you're not a New York local, there is a Philadelphia location, too.
(P.S. An semi-related note, it's been just over a month since I started this little project. Thanks to all of the readers, commenters, and eaters :) You're much appreciated.)