London restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King are purveyors of fine detail with a luxury spin.
Swanky London outposts such as The Wolseley and The Delaunay leave diners panting with excitement about the décor, the ambiance, the service, and generally, the main bit, otherwise known as the food.
How strange then that there should be a such a glaring omission at C&K’s latest venture, Fischer’s in Marylebone.
Fischer’s is a self-styled Austrian café and konditorei (pastry/cake shop) and it looks the part, harking back to the käsespätzle and schnitzel-munching glory days of Vienna 1910 or thereabouts. There is a big clock out front and a big clock inside; there are dark yellow tiles, wood and mirrors on the walls; silver coffee pots and sightly rickety wooden chairs; and Austrian pictures, of varying artistic merit, are plastered all over the shop.
The expertly drilled waiters, mercifully dressed like waiters rather than ponytailed skateboarders, are clad in smart black trousers, white shirts, lime green ties and deep, forest green waistcoats. All is good.
But as I survey the dining room, which is split in two (front and back – I’m in the back, near a waiter station and the exit to the loos) it becomes apparent that C&K’s interior designers have made an uncharacteristic faux pas. (I don’t know what the Austrian for faux pas is – eine balls-brötchen? – but there is one staring me in the face.)
The problem with Fischer’s is this: there aren’t enough dead animals on the walls.
I do a quick inventory from my seat and count only two stag heads. Just two. Pitiful.
I find myself at Fischer’s a couple of weeks after returning from a trip to Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol. A restaurant here doesn’t cut the mustard without a lifeless menagerie being hammered to the ceiling and walls.
I had dinner at an authentic mountain lodge where an entire floor of the restaurant was dedicated to dearly departed beasts, forever frozen in time – beavers, foxes, birds, a sheep (a sheep? yes, a sheep). The list goes on. They was a baby deer. Yes, they killed Bambi.
Perhaps C&K decided a celebration of taxidermy didn’t tally with the liberal sensibilities of their City of Westminster clientele. They are probably right but for lovers of ghoulishly stuffed forest life it’s a missed opportunity.
I popped along for breakfast to see how Fischer’s squares up at the start of the day. The place stays open through lunch and mid-afternoon cake-grazing until dinner, but it’s a good indication of a restaurant’s work ethic and service consistency to watch it in action when the staff, like everyone else, are generally at their most delicate and stroppy.
The attentiveness of the team is impressive. A pot of coffee and a glass of iced water arrives at the table within a minute of being requested. Timeliness is always crucial in hospitality, never more so than in the morning when customers hate hanging around.
Inevitably, I am hit by the conundrum presented by any good menu. Although the choice is not stupidly and worryingly long (long menus typically signifying kitchen chaos and poor food), there is an awful lot that appeals for breakfast/brunch: three preparations of herring with pickled vegetables; ditto, cured salmon; würstchen (sausages, of which there are six styles to choose from, with potato salad, sauerkraut and caramelised onions); classic topfenstrudel (apple and walnut); and a mixed basket of viennoiserie featuring mini croissant au beurre, almond croissant, fruit Danish, orange & sultana zopf, pain au chocolate, and a cherry and an almond muffin.
I have to try to Austrian gröstl (£11.25) because frankly you’d have to be a stuffed squirrel to fail to see the attraction of fried potatoes, onions, bacon and eggs at 10am on a Saturday morning. I ask the waitress if the viennoiserie will be a zopf too far and she concurs, so I opt for a simple croissant to accompany the full Austrian.
The gröstl is great. The potatoes are sprinkled with a dash of paprika to spice up the occasion and the three other constituent parts are equally non-greasy and tasty. I envisage Fischer’s gröstl becoming a popular hangover cure. Tomato ketchup is served in a suitably dinky vessel without embarrassment.
The croissant is buttery perfection. Too many croissants are crap these days. A good croissant should act as a meal in its own right, nurturing the soul, being not overly sweet, simultaneously offering textural chew, nibble and crunch. Fischer’s croissant does all this. Well done to head pastry chef Sujin Cho. One of the best croissants I have had in a long time. Time Out, or some such, should do “The Top Ten Croissants in London” and beat a path to Fischer’s.
Now, is £3 a lot to pay for a single croissant, however good? Of course it is, but £2 is also a lot to pay for six inedible mass-produced croissants from a supermarket, or the greasy, dry filth you typically pick up at a railway station. And I guess £3 isn’t an issue for most of the local residents in this neck of the woods.
Brekkie, including a pot of (good) coffee and 12% service, tops £20.
I couldn’t afford to do this on a regular basis, still less could I take my family along. But for a special occasion treat, I’m in. Invite me along as a guest and I’ll wear my lederhosen.
- Fischer’s, 50 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 5HN
- t: 020 7466 5501
- Richard McComb travelled from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone courtesy of Chiltern Railways. Chiltern has great value flexible fares from Brum to the capital from £28.90 (and free on-board wi-fi). And the views are rather lovely. For more information, go to www.chilternrailways.co.uk