Located at the border of Lincoln Square and North Center, Julius Meinl is at the corner of Montrose and Lincoln. I used to live in Lincoln Square and passed it all the time during my forays around the neighbourhood. It wasn’t until I lived in a different part of Chicago that I realized what a fantastic place it is.
Julius Meinl is a Viennese coffee shop whose only North American locations are a couple of shops in Chicago. I don’t really understand what it is about Chicago that attracts these European companies, but it sure makes the food scene exciting for me.
What makes Julius Meinl special for me, though, is the food. The first time Hide and I went, our server had to come by three times before we managed to make our selections. The menu is about a gazillion pages long, and each item on each page looks absolutely delicious. Would that I lived in Lincoln Square again! I would probably go for brunch every weekend.
I ordered the Truffled Croque Madame: ‘Black Forest ham, Emmentaler cheese, over-hard egg, truffle aioli, Dijon mustard on toasted brioche with mixed greens.’ It was good, but not heavenly as I’ve come to expect from Julius Meinl. I think it’s probably because I don’t like Emmentaler cheese. I should probably spend more time on cheese-tasting so I don’t make mistakes like that when I go to fancy restaurants.
Really, I should’ve just gotten one of the baked egg dishes. You can never go wrong with those. They are amazing (and amazingly filling).
I also ordered the sausage special, because it’s made by the chef himself. The last couple of times I did it, the sausage was weisswurst and it was absolutely divine. Sadly, the sausage wasn’t a weisswurst this time, but it was still delicious. That chef, he really knows his sausage-making.
One of my friends ordered the Kaiserschmarren: ‘Austrian “pancake” with golden raisins, cinnamon, powdered sugar, Meinl preserves.’ It looks about as delicious as it tastes. It’s got that prized, crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-and-chewy-on-the-inside combination.
What my other friend ordered, I believe, is a Meinl Egg Brioche Sandwich: ‘Cheddar cheese, quiche-style egg, on a house-made mini brioche bun; with Black forest ham or Applewood smoked bacon.’ I liked it better than my own sandwich, probably because I actually like cheddar, and I simply adore brioche.
There are other Julius Meinl locations in Chicago, but this is the special one. It’s larger and more beautiful than the others, with decor that makes you feel like you’re on the Titanic, and, of course, it has that extensive menu. Even though this visit to Meinl didn’t quite live up to my astronomically high expectations, I have faith that future visits will.