Max Brenner

October 19th, 2012 by Erik Chudy

big plate!Everyone seems to think they know it all when it comes to their favorite burger in town, myself included, and this problem doubles when that place also happens to be where they work. People have a certain pride in their workplace if they love it there, and will defend it to the death. I had a friend who worked at Max Brenner in the Forum Shops who always swore they had one of the best burgers she’s ever eaten, which I would normally accept if this place wasn’t known mostly for their chocolate. How can a dessert place actually have a decent enough burger for her to recommend to me?

not outsideI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate going to Caesar’s. This becomes even worse when I’m risking a burger meal at a place I have no confidence in. Brenner is located deep in the mall across from the old FAO Schwartz location which is now a completely loud and obnoxious multi-story H&M store. I know this well because I chose to sit in their outdoor ‘patio’ directly across from this insanity to people watch and take in the scenery. What I didn’t think about when I made this request was the ridiculous music coming out of H&M, and is definitely something to think about if you come dine here. Your other option is to sit inside their restaurant which is fairly small and nice, but has the amazing smell of chocolate. The menu is very heavy on the dessert-influenced dishes from shakes to sweet breakfasts, but also has a variety of regular items including pizza, pastas, salads and sandwiches. Quite extensive actually, and I really want to come back to try some of the dessert items as I didn’t have any room after my burger.

very raw!The Brenner Burger comes with Max’s secret barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheddar and a Vidalia onion ring on top, with waffle fries dusted with chili and cocoa powder. It has a great buttery bun; a bit strong at first but quickly got lost in the flavors. The meat had good flavor, it was cooked almost too rare but was still good, although the overall temperature was very low. So low in fact, that my cheddar was barely melted. Isn’t that one of the easier cheeses to melt? The onion rings were a bit undercooked as they were hard to bite through, and I ended up pulling them out of their fried ring sadly. I recently told someone that a perfectly cooked ring is easy to bite through leaving the rest intact; this wasn’t the case. The barbecue sauce was sweet and good, but there was almost not enough of it as I felt myself longing for that bit of flavor occasionally.

The waffle fries were good, but they only give you like five of them in a tiny glass. The cocoa and chili powder are a great concept as a seasoning, but they were hardly noticeable. The aioli on the side was good; it was very sweet and I found myself using it for my burger and fries. The two pickle wedges were ok, but I couldn’t finish both after eating the large burger.

Overall this could have been a really good burger, but the cold temperature really took away from it. The $14.25 price tag is a bit steep, but I guess I need to take into consideration where I was sitting. Once you do that, it’s about on par with some of the other Forum locations I’ve been to, but possibly not as good. The service was spotty too; my waitress was extremely friendly, but bused a table behind me for 5 minutes after taking drink order and disappeared for at least another 5+ minutes after taking my plate before bringing my check. I will point out that they were pretty quiet too. My friend was right to recommend this burger to me; it’s really quite good, but I think it has some competition within the building.

Overall score: 78

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