Max Brenner: A chocolate lover’s dream

I took a trip into NYC to meet my college roomie and since I had been wanting to try Max Brenner for months, we made reservations for lunch. It was finally the perfect opportunity! She loves chocolate too, obviously.

We headed downtown from Penn Station, walked through their little chocolate shop and over to the hostess stand to check in. I considered buying chocolate, but decided against it because it was a balmy day in the city and I didn’t want a puddle of inedible cocoa by the time I returned home later that afternoon.

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We were seated quickly and greeted by the waiter who explained a few things on the menu and recommended a several items. We ordered shakes and then our lunches. My shake of choice was the Chocolate Hazelnut and my roomie got a Cookieshake. Fortunately, my shake included a whipped cream topping and sadly hers did not. We both loved our beverages and the cup added to the experience. The straw laid perfectly in its little spot and there was no mess from the whipped cream, like a diner shake might yield. Everything sat perfectly and then relocated into my belly.

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For lunch, I got the Turkey Club Waffle Sandwich and she ordered the Brenner Lunchette Burger with fries. My sandwich was pretty light because the waffles were thin, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by a sweet or savory taste. They were substantial substitutes for bread slices. The sandwich included cold turkey, salty bacon and creamy avocado. With waffles, it was organized better than a club sandwich with toast because nothing slipped or fell out. The honey mustard and chili aioli gave the sandwich a zesty flavor. I didn’t finish my lunch because I didn’t want to overindulge and miss out on dessert. This was a chocolate restaurant after all.

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For dessert, we decided to share the Chocolate Chunks Pizza with roasted marshmallows and peanut butter. We got the half size, so we didn’t feel to gluttonous. The half pie came out with roasted mini marshmallows sprinkled all over it and peanut butter swirled on top. Underneath, there was a layer of milk and white chocolate. When we took our first bites, we were surprised at how light the crust was. It was much lighter than a pizza dough and didn’t confuse my taste buds, like some dessert pies do. The marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate were warm and melty, and that’s exactly how they should be. If your marshmallow isn’t warm and stringy as you pull and poke at it, you aren’t eating it right.

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After we had eaten our fill, we remarked at how tasty everything was. We didn’t even get a full representation of the menu, so I will have to schedule future visits to really see how their hot chocolate measures up to my favorites.

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If you are a chocoholic, you need to get your fix at Max Brenner. Come on, you deserve a treat!

Max Brenner, 841 Broadway, New York, NY, 646.467.8803

Begin with chocolate and end with chocolate at the Hershey Grill

Connected to the Hershey Lodge is a high-quality, casual restaurant called the Hershey Grill. On a Sunday with many restaurants closed in the area, I thought that we would have to wait for a table, but we were seated right away. Fortunately, we were able to sit outside and fit our stroller with us at the table. The interior of the restaurant is a little fancier than the outside, but both areas are still casual and offer a children’s menu.

We started our meal with exceptional beverages. I had the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini and TK had Brewery at Hershey Chocolate Stout. He loved his beer because he loves stouts, but I didn’t dig it. However, I loved my martini. It was dusted with chocolate and peanut butter crumbs, and it was creamy and sweet. You could definitely taste the chocolate and the peanut butter. At the end of the drink, there was a melted Hershey Kiss in the glass, and you bet your bottom that I ate it! I thought the drink might be better as a dessert, but it was great with my meal.

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini

Before our appetizer came out, we received a bread basket. The pleasant surprise was that one of the butter tabs was actually chocolate butter. I could taste a little sweetness in the butter and a hint of chocolate, but it was enjoyable.

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Butter, Butter and Chocolate Butter

Then, our appetizer came and it was the Flash Fried Calamari. The calamari was crunchy and flavorful, but when I bit down on one of the other fried objects, I was surprised when I tasted the sourness of a lemon. It was a very interesting additive to the dish that I had never tried or seen before. The other fried option in the dish were the banana peppers, and I love those. Banana peppers are always tangy and delicious, but now I know what they taste like fried and they are still tangy, and tasty. The calamari also came with a Zesty Gazpacho Vinaigrette, and it was OK, but I didn’t care too much for it because I like marinara with calamari.

Flash Fried Calamari

Flash Fried Calamari

When our meals came, Jackson had Macaroni and Cheese, TK had the Texas Meatloaf and I had the Grilled Olive Brined Bone-In Pork Chop. TK doesn’t usually order meatloaf anywhere, so when I told him that people love it, he decided to give it a try and he was pleased. The pork chop that I ate was the best pork chop I had ever eaten. It was very juicy and seasoned perfectly. I loved it and I never order pork in a restaurant for fear that it will arrive very dry, as many do. The side dishes for the pork chop included a Fontina Macaroni and Cheese Cake and a Crispy Pancetta, Green Olive, Baby Arugula and Piquillo Pepper Salad. The salad was very crisp and fresh with a pungent bite from the arugula. The macaroni and cheese cake was amazing, so of course, I had to share a bite of it with TK so he could share in the culinary delight that was on my plate. Instead of the breadcrumb topping that you might be used to, there was a crunchy crust on the cake, and then the inside was warm and soft like the mac and cheese you know and love. I would take it as a side dish for every meal, if I could.

Even though we didn’t really have room, we were in the land of chocolate, so we had to order dessert. I had the Cookie Sundae and TK had the Peanut Butter Cup. I tried them both and enjoyed them both, but I couldn’t get too deep into them because I was full. The Peanut Butter Cup was better than the Cookie Sundae, but they both had their fair share of chocolate. If I could fix two things with the Cookie Sundae, I would swap out the chocolate sauce for hot fudge and serve the chocolate chip cookie warm instead of cold.

We were so pleased that we were able to eat at the Hershey Grill and hope to return to try their other seasonal menus at different points of the year. Oh, and eat more chocolate.

Hershey Grill, 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA, 717-534-8601

Seafood feast, at least at Cape May Cafe

After Hollywood Studios, we had a reservation at Cape May Cafe for their seafood buffet. We honestly love it there. I’ve been to Cape May twice before and this time was just as good. First, it is in the Beach Club Resort, which is awesome and has the best pool area, Stormalong Bay. Second, the whole restaurant is decorated like a coastal sea shanty, but more classy because, well, it’s Disney. Duh. And, the third and best reason of all, I can eat as many crab legs as I can stomach, and I do exactly that.

The buffet does not only have great Snow Crab Legs with drawn butter for luscious dipping, it is full of other delicious options. I eat and enjoy the Seafood Chowder, Steamed Mussels, Steamed Clams, Fried Shrimp and Fried Calamari. Other than the crab legs, I go back for more Fried Calamari with a side of Marinara. They are so light and crispy, which is the way they should be.

For those of you who don’t do the fish thing, there is some kind of meat and chicken that I pass by on my way to grab more crab legs. There is even an extensive salad bar that I have tricked myself into eating, thinking that I wouldn’t eat that much at the buffet, but it never works.

If you like seafood and you are in Disney World, I recommend you give Cape May Cafe a try, and the crab legs, of course. During the holidays, the Beach Club lobby is decorated with chocolate creations that will amaze you. You should definitely take a look at these as well, after the crab legs.