It is the final week in the month of April and that means that it is Art Week. What better way to celebrate than to go and see some art, be it as paintings, sculptures, dance, musical performances, stage acting, or photograph? And what better way to wrap up a viewing of some art than to have a bite to eat afterwards?
Insert sad trombone.
I went with a friend to a photography exhibition at the Chicago Photography Centre in Chicago’s Lakeview. Photos taken at Auschwitz and at Terezin, not necessarily heart warming but art nevertheless. Haunting. Moving. Provocative. Educational, especially hearing from the photography — who is Belgian and Italian — that much of Europe entertains a revisionist history with regards to the Holocaust. It was refreshing seeing photos that captured the feeling of the locations rather than lambasting the viewer with the actual horror by putting faces in the scenes. It was even more great seeing the approach to telling the story without feeling like you are watching an episode of “World at War” or “Schiendler’s List.”
After the viewing of the exhibit, my friend and I retreated to Austrian café Julius Meinl, at 3601 N. Southport Avenue so that we could partake of some tea or coffee and dessert. Having been to Julius Meinl for tea and a light dessert several times in the past, this was a perfect little alcove to which to retreat for a late evening. Spacious, dimly lit, and quite quaint, this is a passing ground for several friends and lovers who like a relaxing atmosphere and some of the best tea, coffee, and tasty treats that you can find outside of Austria. In addition to an excellent bill of fare and ambience, there is a live music. On this particular night, there were two violinists who played some outstanding selections — far exceeding what we could have possibly heard on satellite radio.
After having a seat and a brief review of the menu, my friend and I began our orders. For my friend, she ordered the soup of the day, which was a spicy meatball soup in a light broth. Because I knew I wanted a dessert, I started with something a little more substantial before downing a delight of sugar. I had a chorizo spaetzle. I had never had spaetzle, that being a traditional noodle dish in the German and Austrian diet, so I felt a little daring. Plus, I wanted something that was more customary to Austrian dishes. Considering I am primary vegetarian, with a few convenient exceptions at time, having the chorizo in my spaetzle was a bit out of my norm. Coupled with mushrooms and a fair share of fantastic spices, it was a perfect selection for a main dish, so to speak. Served with an order of rooibos orange-cince loose-leaf tea, my mouth was bursting with flavour and my stomach was smiling my stupid smile for me.
Since there was no rush, my friend and I stayed for quite a while, engaged in long conversation and listening to the two violin performers play for the patrons. Then came the moment that people go to Julius Meinl to enjoy: dessert. We ordered a dobos — a five-layered sponge cake with chocolate butter cream icing and topped with a crème brulee crust. With each bite, the heavens opened and a chorus of angels sang to the highest. This dessert is the Fifty-third Deadly Sin and, as I jokingly say, I am going to burn in hell for such enjoyment. And a sin it was because I had all sorts of randy thoughts while eating that cake.
I have had brunch at Julius Meinl and rated their brunches very high, much like I have always done for their night-cap selections of teas and desserts. The dinner choice I had, although they do not have a large dinner selection, was outstanding. And the price is always splendid for the price-conscious patron. Friends and I have been going to Julius Meinl for many years with great satisfaction to be had with each visit. There will be many more. But do not take my word as gospel. Try it out for yourself.