Like most college students, I am an avid Nutella lover. After a long day of classes or my summer internship, I eat the creamy hazelnut spread on just about anything: strawberries, pretzels, you name it. Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and a Thrillist video made my love for Nutella way more exciting. The world’s first Nutella Cafe has opened, and it happens to be in my hometown of Chicago.
I made the journey to 181 N. Michigan Ave in early July, about a month after the May 31st grand opening. The line outside the entrance was still a block long, resulting in an unfortunate, yet suspenseful 30-minute wait. With temperatures reaching 85, blinding sun, and no wind in sight (read: where’s Chicago’s signature when you need it?), the wait wasn’t pleasant, but my friend and I decided to persevere in the name of food journalism and good eats.
When we finally got inside, I was immediately struck by the tiny size of the cafe. With so much hype I had been expecting a more impressive space, but it did not have nearly enough room for the insane lines outside. Although the cafe has two levels and an outdoor area, the main floor only has a few bar stools and limited tables. On the second level, there are two red, circular cushioned seats that look trendy in the center of the room, but there’s no table, which makes them exceptionally nonfunctional. We ended up standing against a counter on the first floor.
The menu boasts crepes, gelato, coffee, cookies, waffles, pancakes, and baguettes. There are also savory items for those who are just accompanying a Nutella fanatic, such as paninis, salads, and soups. My friend and I decided to order a classic Nutella crepe with bananas and strawberries. We were then handed a buzzer that would notify us when our food was ready.
While the crepe was plated nicely and tasted delicious, there wasn’t the real wow-factor that I had been hoping for. Of course it’s hard to make a unique Nutella crepe, but it felt like this one could have been from anywhere. I was expecting a menu full of unique Nutella creations that I had never thought of before and was unimpressed at the limited options.
In the end, the lack of seating and a creative menu made this experience not worth the trip. I was rooting for Nutella, but the company will have to step up its game if I will be waiting in that long line again. Craving a Nutella crepe in downtown Chicago? Stop by Eataly instead.