When should you visit a restaurant? I ask because with the slew of new openings in London there is a race on amongst certain aficionados to be the first in and the first to post. Last month it was all about the Berners Tavern then the Merchant Tavern then Gymkhana and this week I believe is all about Hawker House. Next week it will be somewhere else as hip leads to happening leads to has been. My own preference is to visit a new restaurant after it has been going for a few months. Generally the good places have settled down and the kitchen is motoring along with their menu, The Electric Diner and the Little Social are good examples of this. Sadly it can also show up places where once they have secured good reviews and subsequent bookings they take their eye of the ball. My recent visit to the Newman St Tavern showed this up to the max. I generally avoid the newly opened unless it has been vouched for, as Dave from Goodman did for 28-50 Wine Workshop. I was in during their first week and yet everything was bang on. So despite my tried and tested approach I found myself visiting Boopshi's a new Austrian restaurant/bar a few days after they opened. We were having a delayed birthday night out for my lovely wife with friends. Suzie who is the daughter of Austrian restaurateurs had picked Boopshi's to see if it lived up to it's billing as the finest purveyor of schnitzel in London.
It was properly busy around Charlotte St on Friday night. Only some eagle eyed spotting bagged us a space at the very nice Barrica for a pre-dinner drink. They served us a phenomenal beer called Alhambra especial which I would have gladly drunk all night. As it was we didn't get to sample any tapas, though the missus has been before and rated it. From the outside Boopshi's doesn't look much like an Austrian restaurant or a eating place at all. Big plate glass windows, plain white walls give it a sushi bar feel. Inside it is picnic style tables and plastic chairs, no leiderhosen, cow bells or alpine music in evidence. There is not a great deal of room inside but it certainly busy, a big table of agency types are finishing of a cocktail session at the next table. We start with some variations on the Spritz which are very good indeed. Generous measures, served in nice glassware, the bar certainly know their stuff. Onto food and we order a shared meat platter and a couple of traditional fritatten soups. The meat platter is great, really top quality cured meats and a proper portion unlike a lot of places. The soup is a very tasty old school consomme with fried pancake pieces in it. So far we are impressed. This is washed down by a nice carafe of Prosecco which they do on tap.
To follow we have schnitzel and a variety of mains and this is where it goes a bit wrong. Firstly the generosity dries up when the birthday girl is given a solitary frankfurter with not even a bun for her main. The schnitzel is good and a large portion but after a while it becomes very dry to eat and a chore to finish. It needed more seasoning as did the duck egg I had on top, or even a bit of gravy on the side. The sides are a mixed bag, the potato salad and sauerkraut with speck are good but the spatzle with cheese is dreadful, overcooked and underseasoned. It's just mac'n'cheese really, someone should have tasted it first. The desserts are again a mixed bag the strudel is great, really tasty with a nice tartness, I wasn't a fan of the poppy seed cake though others enjoyed it. I was really excited about the baked pancake dish Kaiserschmarnn which I had had before in Munich but this was a tepid effort, not enough compote on the side so bland and dry. Service was not a strong point, everyone very young, cool and casual but also a touch hopeless. It felt like they had opened before being really ready for customers. I can understand the rush to get the Christmas custom under your belt before the lean month of January but the plaster really should be dry in your toilets before opening. In it's defence the basement bar looked really good and was obviously the heart of the business but the rest of it needs a lot more work. The bill with plenty of booze came to over £70 a head which though not barking I felt we could have been better spent elsewhere. This place needs to settle down before I visit again.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7