Wednesday, 2 September 2009




Be prepared for a blitz of coffee and cake postings that may prove irksome to some of you. And talking of irksome I’ve grown to like the Barbican Estate of late, like the Centre Point tower; if its calming brutality can wind up the Prince of Wales infernally; then by all accounts I’m all for it.

To this day I find it incredulous that the majority of people still take the mickey of our cuisine in Blighty. British cuisine has at last been acknowledged (and with thanks to Messrs Stein, Whittingstalled, the Hairy Bikers from up North, etc) as diverse and rich as the vocabulary of its language (the most virtuous lingo in the world, period). A Polish painter-and-decorator once told me that our food was unimaginative and the sausages untrustworthy; I said Jack, if you’ve only been to greasy spoons and the odd Chicken Cottage, then you’re purely in transit here. Our stews may look stodgy but by George, at least they’ve got class! Without upsetting anyone I would also like to point out that Brit cooking is also more varied than our Scandinavian, Eastern European and for that matter, Teutonic counterparts (I’ll probably get stalked and shot if I uttered ‘put together’).

As we all know there are not many Austrian eateries in the capital (the Ethiopians outnumber them for instance). And if you’re a three-toed sloth you’ll still have one toe remaining to tally and account for the next Austrian venture opening. My first experience of ‘authentic’ schnitzels was at the Tiroler Hut- the outcome was so awful that a near case of ‘nail in the coffin’ of all things Austrian ensued. Imbiss managed to remedy the trauma by serving out good sausages and upmarket SPAM (Leberkäse), but like all half-decent joints it folded before you could finish chewing your piece of rye bread.

Kipferl has been around for more than six years and a thoroughly amiable Austrian chap with a rich sense of humour runs it. I’ve unjustly ignored this place for quite some time, the main excuse being its close proximity (two doors away) to Dose, one of the best places in London for coffee and light bites. Kipferl pitches itself as a delicatessen, it’s a one-stop shop that’s convenient if you’re thinking of entertaining Arnie chez vous.

The name comes from the small, crescent shaped biscuits that are made with ground almonds or hazelnuts and flavoured with vanilla.

Came here a fortnight ago with a wonderful couple, Lady Gray and her knight, G from Washington (our Northeast that is).

I deliberately passed on the coffee (a self-declared sixth sense thing…it’s all too complicated!) and went for the Almdudler instead (an Austrian equivalent to the Scots’ Irn-Bru). It’s supposed to be lemonade with a hint of ginger, believe me it tasted more like ginger beer. The platter on the left was my special lunch consisting of potato, cucumber, lentil and red pepper salads plus rye bread and a Käsekrainer sausage. The latter is a smoked variety with small chunks of cheese embedded. The hot melting cheese should come with some kind of warning! As with all the dishes that are of the ilk, the sausage was marvellous and the salads were purely perfunctory.

Lady Gray’s platter had a different sausage of Debreziner. This pork sausage, mildly spiced with paprika is Hungarian in origin. I tried some and it was equally delicious. G’s Wiener was I assumed a more luxurious eating version of a hot dog. It’s funny how that I noticed all three of us left most of the rye bread untouched, must be its denseness that we’re not accustomed to manducating.

G’s Linzertorte. Short, crumbly pastry made with almonds and red currants. Loved it.

What I came for; Vienna’s iconic Sachertorte. Although edged in terms of sinful indulgence by Bea’s German Chocolate Cake, it didn’t disappoint. Moist, rich and not too sweet; it’s worth coming back here for. At this point I was wishing for a cup of Long Black from Dose.

Imminent revisits are planned. Stuff to try include liver dumpling soup, Apfelkuchen (Jewish apple cake), Topfentorte (baked cheesecake) and when I feel less snooty, the coffee. As for now, a großer recommendation.

70 Long Lane
London EC1A 9EJ


Ben said...

I don't really buy into this whole revisionist approach to crap cuisines - British included. That said, I do like the fact that in this country we are starting to take a bit more pride in our food, and more importantly the ingredients. Gastropubs may seem a bit of an overpriced joke (on us) at times, but compared to what was on offer previously in British pubs, I'll take them any day. But leave the confines of London and food in the regions is generally still piss-poor. Or maybe that's just where I'm from.

Central/eastern European food? I've got family in Switzerland and unless you're eating at les trois rois, it's all stodge (and overpriced in switzerland) - any country can make comfort food.

Maybe I don't think a sign of a good cuisine is one where you have to hunt out where someone has done it well. I like fish and chips but it's a schoolboy error to get it in a pub like my naive scandavian housemate. But you shouldn't have travel up to Whitby to prove that British food is good. Bit of a rant that..

meemalee said...

Kipferl opened when I worked round the corner on Aldersgate Street but I moved jobs shortly after so never got round to going, so I'm glad you've checked it out for me :)

Amazing fact of the day: Kipferls were the precursor to croissants - intoduced by the Austrian Marie-Antoinette to France. I thank you.

thora said...

Kipferl are our favourite pre-Xmas food, I always make some. Vienna was one of our school trip destinations way back in 1978. On the last day of our stay, I counted my very last coins and went to eat a Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher - only to discover that I don't much like this cake.

bellaphon said...

Ben- Love your comments (start blogging FGS!). I just get over protective when the piss taking goes too far! Arrggh Chirac..! Agree with you on Swiss food, grim and uninspired; they would cease to exist without cheese! As for chippie, I'm sure that The Two Brothers in Finchley is as good as Whitby and that's fried without using dripping.

Mee- From biscuits to croissants, how we take things for granted! Thank you dear lady.

Thora- I believe that this one case whereby an improvisation improves on the original. I had an original slice of the said cake you had years ago, it was way too dense and dry. The version here is more universally appealing and gulpable.

Ben said...

I understand completely and I can be just as protective, but we've only ourselves to blame. Up until recently - as a proportion of our income - we used to spend the least amount on food in Europe, compared to Italians who spent the most. It has shown. The war can't have been a good basis for attitudes either - though maybe that was just my gran in perpetual blitz mode.

As for the fish, I was under the impression that it could never be as good with vege oil as it doesn't get hot enough, so the fish needs to be cooked for longer and becomes soggier

I'll restrict my views largely to the footnotes of blogs. I feel most opinions on the internet are like the Chris Morris Cake sketch 'there's not real evidence for that, but it's a fact..'

Gastro1 said...

This place is a little gem always try and pop in when I'm n the hood.

bellaphon said...

Gastro1- Concur as much. Thank you.

lady gray said...

aw! what a lovely review, it was a lovely place- fab find. Thank you again for the fab lunch. When you are back from your break its my turn to treat you.... now i just need to find somewhere you havent been ;)
also..... am in dire need of a proper coffee lesson.... speak soon - ~ Lady Gray xo