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Restaurant Review (Chicago): A Veggie Girl Reviews Julius Meinl

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Julius Meinl is a European style coffee shop that offers a wide range of coffee, tea, pastries and cafe food. I had been here before and fell head over heals for their quiche, so I wanted to come back and do an “official” review. On a Sunday afternoon I grabbed one of my pals and headed out to grab what I hoped would be some great food.

Meinl has a great array of offerings, many of which are influenced by Austrian and German cooking as they are a Vienna Austria based company. Along with traditional cafe eats you’ll find roasted sweet potato crepes, Kaiserschmarren (Austrian “pancake” with raisins, cinnamon, powdered sugar and Meinl’s own preserves), Winter vegetable spätzle (spätzle is an egg noddle), and an oven roasted portabella sandwich.Check out their full menu. There were so many vegetarian options I began to calculate how much food I could eat before an explosion would occur.

We wanted to start things off with one of their pastry specials; we had our eye on either the caramelized onion & Swiss cheese danish or the sweet potato. Unfortunately, we got there too late to be able to snag one of these scrumptious delicacies. Not only does the early bird catch the worm, but apparently it also catches the Meinl daily pastry specials.

What I ate:
Meinl Egg Brioche Sandwich (cheddar cheese with quiche style eggs on a brioche bun without the meat) and a mocha latte.

The latte was delicious, with a thick creamy foam that had a lovely toasted flavor. Overall the sandwich was delicious. The eggs were light and creamy and the flavors were complementary and yummy, but the portion was miniscule (though it was priced accordingly). While the brioche bun was a great flavor profile, it mostly served to crush the delicate egg causing the bun to be the primary flavor versus the egg.

What my friend ate:
Roasted Vegetable Crepes (portabella, zucchini, red peppers, and cheese) came with a small side salad and cole slaw. She also had a macadamia nut latte. Once again the latte was great and the macadamia flavor was strong but didn’t overwhelm the coffee. The crepe was a menu superstar, it was scrumptious, fresh veggies snuggled inside a perfectly golden crepe with a tangy sauce. The vegetables were a great textural contrast to the crepe. The only downside on this plate was the cole slaw, which was drowning in a vinaigrette that was way too sour.

The desserts we shared:
Mozart (a chocolate cake with pistachio cream, chocolate mousse, pistachios and a chocolate glaze). This is billed as one of their specialties and boy is it ever! Everything about this cake is yum on your tongue; it’s moist and chocolaty without being too sweet. The delicate pistachio flavor hits your flavor buds at the end and lovingly, lingers for a moment.

Black Forest (chocolate cake, brandied cherries, chocolate mousse) let me start by saying this is a very good cake, but be prepared for the very alcoholic taste of the brandied cherries. I’ve been eating Black Forest cake since I was on solid foods and for just about every birthday since. Each time I visit Germany it’s on my list right after a good beer, but before the pretzel. So I’m a bit of snob when it comes to this cake; with that in mind let me continue. The brandied cherries were too much and the alcoholic taste didn’t belong. In every other version I’ve had, the alcohol has been more in the cake itself and very subtle. The cake was too dense and wet for my liking, not the moist fluffy heaven I was familiar with. There are better Black Forest cakes out there so please consider having one of their other fabulous desserts…like the Mozart.

Julius Meinl
3601 N. Southport
Chicago, IL 60613
Menu Creativity: Good
Ambiance: Upscale coffee shop
Overall Experience: Great, one which I cannot wait to repeat
Rating: Good for vegetarians and vegans

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About Jennifer Engelbrecht