Grace Dent leaves Fischer’s in a Viennese whirl, doggy bag in hand.
For me, Marylebone is always less of a planned destination, more of an impromptu amble along a deeply deluxe retail thoroughfare. I didn’t mean to go shopping, but now I’m carrying a new pair of Day Birger et Mikkelsen pumps, ten Farrow & Ball sample pots, a half kilo of milled chia seed and a Conran Shop pie crust crimper. Marylebone High Street is responsible for many occasions where I have queried the whereabouts of my profits before accepting, ‘OK, I bloody well spent it.’
And now, at the Baker Street end of proceedings, on the site of a short-lived expensive Italian called Cotidie, we have Fischer’s, an Austrian-themed ‘informal neighbourhood café’ with a short but considered menu of cured fish, schnitzels, sausages, brötchen, strudels, ice cream coupes and traditional tortes mit schlag. I say ‘themed’, but please don’t go along expecting waiting staff in lederhosen slap-dancing each other to ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ between courses.
This is an elegant, expensively wrought, mock 1920s Austrian refreshment room. If you’re asking, ‘But why would anyone do that?’, then my answer is: ‘Look, this is London, we do whatever we please and if we want to eat marillenknödel (apricot dumplings) and drink schokoladengenuss (grand cru Kalinga chocolate served with a jug of hot full-cream milk), then so be it.’ If anyone could dream up this idea and then pull it off (because Fischer’s is really damn affable), then it would be those venerable institutions of London dining Chris Corbin and Jeremy King.
This is the duo who created Le Caprice, which Princess Di loved, and The Ivy, which Christopher Biggins loved even more. They’re also behind The Delaunay, of which I’m enormously fond; The Wolseley, a linchpin breakfast venue for business London; and that pocket-friendly enormo-café Brasserie Zédel, which is a lifesaver if you’re booking for a large group of tight-wads.
I love that the pair believe Fischer’s is ‘informal’, while concurrently employing alert, charming staff who wilfully meet your eye and smile as you enter the room, before whisking you to a beautifully dressed table, then nip around unobtrusively, catering to your whims, making the entire visit seem like a tremendous favour one has paid them. Perhaps Corbin and King need to reassess London’s current depths of ‘informal’: I was invited to a macaroni cheese/mini-golf restaurant the other day; occasionally I find myself sat on an upturned bucket in a reclaimed NCP car park, eating an undercooked burger patty, thinking, ‘Wow, I am so loving this level of informal! I mean, the Spork is so underrated as an eating device!’ I love Fischer’s ‘informality’, my posterior perched on a leather banquette, nibbling a round of brötchen topped with herring roe caviar and egg.
The food here is stalwart, comforting and pleasing. This is a short menu as compared to, say, The Delaunay, which one could swat down a helicopter with. We shared a pretty, nicely balanced salad of beets and goat’s curd and a bowl of delicious cheesy, noodly käsespätzle. I ordered a chicken schnitzel with lingonberry compote and a side of buttery mash. The schnitzel had a decadently rich breadcrumb and was larger than my head. I ate as much as was feasible and the rest was taken home in a classy Fischer’s box and used for training bribes for my fat Labrador for two days. Or was it three? Actually, I think we’re still in the process of eating the schnitzel.
A perfectly pink fillet of sea trout with broccoli and toasted almonds was my friend’s lighter alternative, while I also demolished a large slice of moist raspberry and poppy seed gugelhupf as pudding. I have vowed to return to Fischer’s again, especially near Christmas when Marylebone High Street is one of the twinkliest, most festive places in London. Shopping and schnitzel sounds like a fantastic plan. Oh, Vienna!
Source: London Evening Standard