Sugar Rush: Carrot Cake from Julius Meinl

Sugar Rush

Reviews of desserts in Chicago.


[Photograph: Kate Bernot]

When was the last time you had carrot cake? Yeah, it had been a while for me, too. But when a friend couldn't stop raving about the "best he's ever had" carrot cake at Julius Meinl, I figured it was worth a bike ride up to the Viennese pâtisserie's newest location in Ravenswood. Behind the glass in the bright and very European coffeeshop, the carrot cake ($6) was waiting for me, enrobed in smooth, inviting cream cheese frosting.

Executive pastry chef Rochelle DuBridge adapted the cake from a grandmother's recipe, and after one bite, I wanted to hug that grandmother myself. Super moist, well-spiced cake is studded with golden raisins for a bit of chew, and tiny shreds of carrot prove that the dough is made with the real deal. The same cool, velvety cream frosting that coats the cake also bisects the interior, ensuring that each bite has an equal balance of cake and frosting.

I left the pecan candies on top for last, and they ended the treat on a high note. These slightly crunchy, nutty bites would be equally fantastic on their own—Rochelle, any chance you can start to package these?—but are even better when coated with just a pinch of the frosting. While carrot cake certainly isn't at the top of everyone's favorite dessert list, if you've been wronged by dry, bland carrot cake in the past, Julius Meinl offers a very strong argument for revisiting this dessert staple.

Julius Meinl

4115 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613 (map)