Last Saturday, my Korean friend and I went to Max Brenner‘s chocolate cafe on 841 Broadway. This place has been termed by some (quite rightly, if I might add) the real-life Willy Wonka’s. There’s certainly enthusiasm about chocolate and sweets, and plenty of panache. My eyes turned the size of saucers when I spotted the treats brought to tables around us: chocolate fondues with strawberries and what looked like cute little brownies to dip in – a death by chocolate type of cake gleaming invitingly, surrounded by berries and dollops of cream – or golden pancakes with an array of toppings bursting with colour.
My friend and I arrived on time for our reservation, which was a bit before noon, and contrary to other reports, there was no hour-wait or anything of the sort. The service was extremely friendly and cheerful – but we did wait for our food for more than 50 minutes, which was a bit extreme considering it basically amounted to a sandwich and an omelette. We ignored reviews online who advised against savoury dishes and recommended sweet ones only – and in this we were wrong. Our sandwich and omlette sounded good on paper, but were mediocre at best taste-wise. The milkshakes, though, were a different kettle of fish altogether.
(Paranthetically, if you ever wondered the provenance of the phrase “kettle of fish” here’s your chance to find out:
According to The Phrase Finder, the earliest actual citation of the term in print appears to be in Thomas Newte’s A Tour in England and Scotland in 1785:
“It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain their neighbours and friends with a Fete Champetre, which they call giving ‘a kettle of fish’. Tents or marquees are pitched near the flowery banks of the river… a fire is kindled, and live salmon thrown into boiling kettles.”
But to return: no fish was harmed or in anyway involved in the making of our shakes. My friend ordered a strawberry white chocolate one which was quite yummy but its consistency resembled more a purée or smoothie than a shake. Mine, however, was a hazelnut chocolate shake, and it tasted, without any exageration, like liquid bliss. So yes, I would return, if only to try some more sweets and feel like Alice in Wonderland having a drink.