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Restaurants & Bars 6

Julius Meinl

Vital Information | Nov 26, 2002 05:06 PM

I believe this imported from Vienna coffeeshop has been mentioned a few times on the board, but I could not find a review yet. I wish I had one before my visit.

Since Julius Meinl got hyped, I have been looking forward to trying it. Afterall, I have a longstanding affair with things sweet, and Vienna is rather famous for their coffeehaus tradition. I expected something wonderfully authentic--rich, luxurious, decandant--the Strauss driven coffee shop of my dreams. Perhaps, I am a victim of a vivid imagination.

Julius Meinl seemed every bit the Austrian version of Starbucks or Caribou. Now, I have confessed already to disappointment, but I do not mean that comparison as a total insult. What I mean, is this just came across as another upscale coffee shop with a Viennese schtick.

They parade a classic look. Wooden floors and booths, coat hooks, a few newspapers on spindles, stuff you could have copied from a postcard. Yet, it did not work. Too new, too cheap and too spread out too.

First, obviously, there is no way a recently opened cafe can mimic the tobacco stained walls and well-worn patina found at the classics. Second, the eye registers the difference between wood veneers and wood solids. I'm not saying they purchased the furniture and accessories at Ikea, but then again Ikea sells a different style of merchandise. It looked cheap. Finally, there was a spaciousness to the place. High ceiling and a defined space for the take-home products may have seemed appealing on paper, but it removed a lot of the coziness needed in these kinds of establishments. Adding to this, the tables seemed too far from the booths. They just did not draw me in with the architecture.

And it was very chilly too. None of this would matter if they could deliver Vienna on the table. We ordered two of the breakfast type pastries, a cheese filled brioche and a chocolate brioche. Other selections included plain croissants, cherry turnovers, and some plain rolls. Too be honest, the baked things looked about as good as everything else in the room. Special breads and cakes should look special. Just comapare, say Fox and Obel. There, the items glisten. You can see the crispness and freshness. Sugar, butter, and fruits beckon. Not here.

Sure enough, our first bites disappointed. Both pastries, the chocolate and the farmer's cheese, tasted less than fresh. They also lacked that butter richness associated with the word brioche. On the other hand, the fillings, especially chocolate, excelled. I would have much rather stuck my finger in, Little Jack Horner style, and limited myself to the inside.

I must report that there is another display case worth of pastries, more appropriate for later in the day. Strudels looked right, and the cheese version really tempted, but the other baked goods looked very sloppy. Maybe inside they too tasted exquisite, but they did not look that way.

Coffee? no better or worse either. We spent a long time today at Costco holiday shopping, and this was to be my reward (actually my incentive) for such drudgery. After an incredible long ride on snow filled streets. It did not do it.


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