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

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Shake Shack is no joke

IMG_5203Since the first Shake Shack opened up in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New Yorkers were hooked. I’ve never been to that location, but I have eaten at Shake Shack in Citi Field and now in Westbury, New York. Among the many locations that the Shake Shack has, you can pick up some delicious grease at the Grand Central Terminal and the JFK Airport, if you want to make your fellow flyers jealous. The original location in NYC always has a line. That’s how good the burgers are! There is even a Shake Cam streaming video of the line on their website so that people in NYC can keep an eye on it and judge what the best time is to head down to Madison Square Park for a trademarked ShackBurger®.

My most recent visit to hamburger heaven, was to their Westbury location. On a Friday afternoon, the line wasn’t too bad when we hopped on. I ordered a ShackBurger® and TK had a SmokeShack®. My burger included cIMG_5205heese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. I dipped the burger in ketchup as well. It was magical. The burger was juicy, pure and delicious; exactly how a cheeseburger should be. I tasted TK’s burger and that was so good, but with an added kick. His had cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers (the heat culprits) and ShackSauce. His burger was a bit messier than mine, but it had a bunch of delicious flavors. It had the saltiness of the bacon, the heat from the peppers, the zestiness of the ShackSauce and the pure meat flavor of the beef. I thought he made a great choice.

We also shared a side of their Crinkle Cut Fries and they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Crinkle Cut is my favorite fry variety, with waffle as a close second. TK also ordered a Peanut Butter Shake and I ordered a Lemonade. The lemonade was perfect and refreshing. The Peanut Butter Shake was so good and quite dangerous. It is made with their Frozen Custard, so it is thicker and creamier than regular ice cream. If you like peanut butter (and we do), you will not be disappointed. You may actually tell your friends. IMG_5204

There are other menu items that deserve a shout out. Just because we didn’t order them this time, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. They have Flat-Top Hot Dogs, dog treats and Concretes. Their Concretes include custard with toppings mixed in. There are a few that you can only get at this location, like the Westberry and the Old Country Rocky Road which sends five percent of all proceeds to Island Harvest, or you can build your own. The mix-ins aren’t your regular sprinkles and Snicker bars, they are for real. On the list, they included Belgian Waffles, Chocolate Truffle Cookie Dough and Strawberry Puree. Concrete is a definite for next time, but so is a burger and an order of fries. Shake Shack is so popular with New Yorkers because it is just that delicious.

Shake Shack, 860 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY, 516-620-2880

A Sweet Treat: Stroopwafel

Recently, I took a walk around Sayville, New York and stopped into Sweet Gourmet. They sell all kinds of gourmet treats from candy to salsa, and they have a showcase of chocolates and treats. I saw the Stroopwafel next to the register, so I decided to buy it and try it.

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Stroopwafel Package, $1.69

 

The Stroopwafel is made of two thin Dutch waffles with caramel sandwiched between them. Two came in the package, so I shared it with friends. It was chewy and sweet, like a combination between a graham cracker and a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. I would purchase them again, even if for the sole purpose of creating an open face s’more with Nutella and marshmallows. Now, there’s a thought.

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Bitten Stroopwafel

Sweet Gourmet, 69 Main Street, Sayville, NY, 631-244-0993

A German Bierhaus in NYC

While celebrating a friend’s bachelorette festivities, we started the day at the Bierhaus on 3rd Avenue and 45th Street. The atmosphere was all Bavarian, from the steins on the walls to the flags hanging in every corner. We sat at a long table with the silverware stacked inside a glass stein at the end. This was not a place to stay quiet and enjoy your meal, it was a place to be rowdy and enjoy your beer.

The menu was full of German specialties, and lucky for us, we started with the Wilhelm Sampler Platter. The trays were full of pretzels, potato pancakes, potato salad, radish salad, sauerkraut, sauerkraut balls and wieners, with the accompanying condiments. It was all delicious and I made sure to try it all. I especially liked the pretzels and the potato pancakes because, let’s face it, the Germans have perfected them. The radish salad was also surprisingly good because it was just pickled pink radishes and it was a nice addition. The sauerkraut balls were interesting because they were battered and didn’t have too much of a sour taste to them, but they too were yummy. This was not the end of the food for me (I know you are surprised) as I ordered the Pork Schnitzel Sandwich with fries. The fries were excellent but I felt like I wouldn’t know the difference if it was pork or chicken, or even beef for that matter. The breading made the sandwich.

A boot full of Dunkel

The only beer on the menu is German and delicious, but there is wine and liquor just in case the brew isn’t for you. My beverage of choice to start the day was a half liter of Hofbrau Hefeweizen, a non-distilled wheat beer that I remember loving at the Las Vegas Hofbrauhaus, and it didn’t disappoint, once again. We also passed a boot full of Dunkel (a dark lager) around the table to see who would get splashed in the face by the remaining liquid first. When the beer rolls back into the shoe part of the boot, the air pops the beer back at the opening and at your face.  It is silly, but pretty fun too.

So, if you are looking for good beer and good German food, and want to enjoy it all in a place that is not the least bit presumptuous, take a trip into NYC to the Bierhaus.

Bierhaus, 712 3rd Avenue (at 45th Street), New York, NY, 212.867.2337