Oxford St, Paddington 22-Feb-07
Subtitle: Elegy for Chocolate
Max Brenner is dying a long slow death. Choked by its popularity, this once novel, exciting and little-known place where one saw stick thin models eating exquisite chocolate desserts with knife and fork, now harbours trendy young parents with wild rampaging children high on sugar. There's also the odd high-school date and its faithful regulars: Asian students who love Western desserts.
The venue has acquired that faint smell of sweet and slightly aged milk. The vanilla aromas blending disturbingly with lactic cheesiness to foretell the future of this establishment: another Gloria Jeans'in a few more years.
The gift packs remain fabulous, but the chocolate varieties are not what they used to be. The middle-of-the-road and most cost-effective are now the loaw of this incarnation of Max Brenner. The chocoholic has left the helm.
Their once delectable tribute to chocoholism: Espresso and dark chocolate frappe is but a poor shadow of itself. "We could make you a dark chocolate one, but I don't guarantee it will taste nice. We just follow the recipe," advised the sullen attendent. So the insipid milk chocolate version arrives. A sign that ooey-gooey mud-cake loving Westies have triumphed over good-taste.
The glass is beautiful: a ceramic soda cup replica bent at the top with a straw hole. But the taste is greasy and rough. The chocolate extract grates on my throat and no amount of numbing ice can enrichen what tastes like a cheap drink but costs $5.95.