If you were an Austrian-born, globetrotting executive chef with experience working at hotels and restaurants around the world, you’d open your first solo restaurant in south suburban Mendota Heights, right?
That’s what Robert Ulrich has done. His eatery is Mendoberri, a delightful café and wine bar in the relatively new Mendota Village retail development. (Mendoberri, according to Ulrich, is a made-up word combining Mendota with the fresh-sounding “berri.”)
Lunch is counter service. At lunch, try the Mendoberri salad, the sherry-honey dressing really makes the fresh goat cheese and the crispy goat-cheese croquettes pop.
The Spiky Club sandwich is a fantastic feast: curried chicken salad layered with bacon, avocado, and lettuce surrounding several hearty slices of free-range chicken from Callister Farm in West Concord. All sandwiches come with a fairly large salad of greens.
The crab cakes are as they should be: far more crab than cake, and well paired with a delicate saffron-garlic aioli.
The kids’ menu is a real treasure: I couldn’t stop sneaking bites of my son’s pasta—the parmesan-tomato sauce was delicious. Kids’ meals come with organic milk or juice and a vegetable. There are no French fries at Mendoberri.
Two small nits: The kitchen forgot to make our roasted-vegetable pasta until I asked after it. They made it immediately and then offered to buy us dessert. But when I accepted and ordered the apple strudel, they forgot to bring out that dish, too. Oh well.
Dinner is sit-down, and the wine bar offers some fine choices (I’m partial to the Kunde Merlot), with every bottle under $30. And when that strudel finally did arrive, it was excellent, with local apples, and a nod to the chef’s heritage—a bit of spiced Austrian Stroh rum. That last touch was unexpected, surprising, authentic, and global—just like Mendoberri.