Julius Meinl Opens A New Sweet Spot In Ravenswood
By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 19, 2012 4:00PM
Julius Meinl, the Austrian sweet shop that is beloved by practically everyone who walks through the door, has opened a new location. The new spot isn't a full-service restaurant like the others. At first glance, it may seem kind of tiny. The cafe serves coffee, pastries and a few sandwiches, but behind the counter lies the heart of the Meinl empire in Chicago—a new central pastry kitchen. We went behind the scenes with Meinl's head pastry chef to learn how they keep turning out that decadent goodness.
Creating pastries for Meinl shops is a unique challenge for pastry chef Rochelle Dubridge. She was hired last year to raise Meinl's pastries to a new level, and her amazing resume (North Pond, Hot Chocolate and pastry chef at Vie) made her the right woman for the job. But making a pastry for a dessert case isn't the same as turning it out in a restaurant kitchen. "I have to make something with all the components of a plated dessert, but it has to keep and look good in a case. It's kind of a puzzle."
Her goal was to bring prettier, more whimsical pastries to Meinl stores, and create more interesting flavor combinations. "I learned how to deal with a menu that changed daily at Vie, so I want to create new desserts here as often as possible." This means customers will be getting unique, fine dining-quality pastries at coffeeshop prices. (Beat that, Starbucks.) Look for new pastries to hit Meinl cafes at least once a week.
One example of this attempt to turn a plated dessert into a dessert for the case: her Key Lime pie. The beautiful, glistening dome of green conceals a complex layered interior. The base is a home-made graham cracker crust, there's a hunk of creme brulee custard in the center and it's surrounded by homemade lime curd. Another example: the individual chocolate layer cake. Dubridge calls it "a grown up version of a cupcake, but with more love." The cake is made of layers of dark chocolate mousse and raspberry jam. We also got a glimpse of some old favorites, like the famous Meinl cinnamon rolls. Don't worry, your standard morning pastry isn't going to disappear from the case. But you might be enticed into trying something new.
Every item in Meinl pastry cases is made from scratch. Next time you're in Ravenswood, stop by and peer through the back window into the pastry kitchen and see where all of your favorites are made.
Julius Meinl Coffee Bar and Patisserie is located at 4115 N. Ravenswood.