Shop OE5, Menzies Alley
300 LaTrobe Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Everyone knows about Max Brenner, but by the time I was old enough to be able to afford to eat there, the idea of having chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and a chocolate milkshake on the side had become unappealing, to say the least. Chris on the other hand insists that boys don’t grow up, but just grow bigger, and thus he was still extremely keen to give Max Brenner a go. And after literal years of wheedling on his part, I finally gave in.
Anyone who’s been to Max Brenner will tell you that the place has a hint of Willy Wonka to it. Aside from your standard gift displays and chocolate cabinets, the cafe also showcases slowly churning vats of melted chocolate, and ceiling pipes decorated like they’re piping chocolate. It is all very warm and sweet, just like their desserts.
We could get crepes and waffles anywhere, but this is one of the only places I know that does a Chocolate Fondue for Two ($19). We had marshmallows and banana bread, as well as fresh bananas and (best of all) juicy strawberries. There was both dark and milk chocolate, served in fondue pots heated with tea candles, and we had great fun dipping the bits and bobs in.
Our dessert confirmed what I had suspected all along – Max Brenner is really just a very run-of-the-mill chocolate cafe, trying to pass itself off as artisan. The melted chocolate tasted no different from a Cadbury block, and I can’t imagine the other desserts being of any higher quality when there isn’t even a proper kitchen. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an enjoyable place to visit on occasion; the choice, whimsy, and ambience all come together to form something more than the sum of its parts, which surely explains just why Max Brenner has stayed so popular over the years.
Rating: 12/20 – oldie but a goodie.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.