Traditional Austrian food is never going to take over the world. At the risk of making a crude generalisation, old school Austrian food at its best is tasty, but also rather heavy with lashings of meat and rich pastries. Still, there’s definitely a place for that kind of food, especially during the brisk, frigid British winter. Boopshi’s concentrates mainly on schnitzel, but also has a small selection of other Austrian dishes.
Boopshi’s itself, having taken over the premises of an older, defunct Thai restaurant, is a small, spartan place. During my first visit with The Euro Hedgie, the place was so new that we could still smell the wood glue and, according to the Hedgie, the cubicles in the gent’s were missing a door or two. Aside from all that, the decor had a sparse, Ikea-like feel to it – especially the pinewood tables. Still, the service was friendly.
Boopshi’s weekend dinner
Both the Hedgie and I opted for the amusingly-named almdudler which turned out to be a rather weakly flavoured fizzy apple soft drink.
Most of the main plates can also be ordered as starters, which is exactly what we did. The Hedgie went for the board of Austrian cured meats and while we couldn’t identify them, highlights included the mildly peppery and garlikcy sausage slices and the thin, partially transparent slices of mildly salty and fatty ham.
Unlike the animal tongues served elsewhere, Boopshi’s ox tongue actually looks like a tongue which tickled me. The thick, offally, slightly coarse and tough hunk of meat went down a treat with a hearty helping of soft, mildly salty lentils.
Both the Hedgie and I opted for schnitzel as our mains, pork and veal respectively. These flattened, bread crumb covered, bone-free and fried slabs of meat were unsurprisingly very similar, with the veal version more tender than the pork. While not as massive as the 12in or even larger versions sometimes found in Vienna, both portions were huge. Although free from oil and grease, munching my way through such a large, homogenous hunk of veal would’ve been monotonous if it wasn’t for the unorthodox topping of salty anchovies. Other toppings are available, such as the Hedgie’s choice of capers, although I found the latter surprisingly bland. An alternative smaller helping of schnitzel is available served in a bun.
The side dish of spatzle and cheese was essentially mac and cheese, but it was good mac and cheese – mildly firm and chewy pasta twirls covered in a creamy, nutty cheese.
The sauerkraut was surprisingly mild – I prefer mine nice and tart – but the addition of salty, chewy speck made up for it.
The meal ended with a dismal whimper rather than a bang. The Hedgie skipped dessert, but I went for the sachertorte and I wish I hadn’t. What should’ve been a rich, moist chocolate cake layered with apricot jam and covered in molten chocolate or chocolate icing was instead bone dry with almost no jam at all. Not good enough.
Boopshi’s weekend lunch
I may have been all schnitzled out after my first meal at Boopshi’s, but the prospect of bratwurst tempted me back. The version here was long, smoothly ground, herby and mildly peppery. The sweet, fruity mustard was a good match, but the sausage is perfectly enjoyable without it.
There are unsurprisingly few vegetarian dishes on the menu and the goat’s cheese with beetroot was one of them. The light and fluffy cheese was mildly tangy and not nearly as powerfully flavoured as other goat’s cheeses which is a good thing if you find goat’s cheeses too overbearing. It made for a moreish compliment to the lightly earthy shreds of beetroot dressed in a fruity olive oil, although the meagre scattering of pumpkin seeds added little.
Apple strudel in many other restaurants tends to be a thinly-disguised apple pie or tart, but the version here is very much a traditional strudel. Although the thin, chewy layers of pastry made for clumsy eating, the internal layers of spiced apple and raisins was pleasing. The fruity filling was made all the more warming by the addition of the thin, eggy custard served in a small jug on the side.
Boopshi’s weekday lunch
I returned to Boopshi’s for one last meal, mainly to try the beef frankfurter which didn’t disappoint. Like the bratwurst, it was smoothly textured but with a slightly saltier, smokier, heavier taste. The fruity mustard made a repeat appearance and while it didn’t suit the frankfurter quite as well as it did the bratwurst, it was still a welcome condiment.
The smoked eel, bacon and quail’s egg salad was misnamed. Although the tender fish was smoky and lightly salty, the two smell strips were outnumbered by the rashers of sweet cured streaky bacon made from the belly. Nonetheless this was a pleasing dish with the sweet, fatty bacon and smoky eel complimented well by bitter leaves in a fruity olive oil dressing and some hard boiled quail eggs. Richer, runnier soft boiled eggs would’ve been a better choice, but that’s a minor quibble next to the meagre serving of eel.
The small helping of bland stewed plums in the Kaiserschmarrn was miserly, but this dessert was still pleasing thanks to the lightly shredded, smashed strips of fluffy pancakes. The texture of the pancakes was so fluffy that it almost resembled a bread and butter pudding. Given the non-presence of plum, most of the sweetness came instead from the scattering of raisins with a very mild boozy kick coming from a hint of rum.
Boopshi’s isn’t about inventive, clever cuisine, but hearty, warming, generally good quality stodge. As long as you’re happy with that, then you’ll have a good time here.
Address: 31 Windmill Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2JN
Phone: 020 3205 0072
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday noon-15.30 and 17.30- 22.00. Sunday noon-21.30.
Reservations: probably a good idea for large groups on weekends
Average cost for one person including soft drinks and service: £30 approx.