Restaurant Review: Kipferl, N1

Stephen Moore finds out there is more to Austrian cuisine than Viennese cakes

It’s easy to miss this relatively new Austrian coffeehouse and kitchen on a stroll along Camden Passage.

Its muted frontage and beige palette loses the fight for attention to the enticing Elk In The Woods opposite, a staple favourite.

Inside it’s all clean lines, lots of light wood and the minimum of fuss; a bit like an IKEA showroom with the colour bleached out of it.

It didn’t do much for me, which at least concentrated the mind on the food – and the hordes of exotic-looking Viennese cakes on display threatening to stretch London’s collective waistline to rival Santa’s.

As a cafe all is well – from a previous visit I recommend the apfelkuchen, a traditional Jewish apple cake recipe with lemon and cinnamon, well executed for �2.50.

Good coffee, sausages, meat and cheese snacks are also reasonably priced.

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But as a restaurant it faces considerable competition in and around the Angel – and Austria is hardly well-known for its culinary achievements.

The wavy, chunky wooden tables were are a pain for balancing glasses of wine or beer on, too – about as wobbly as my pronunciation from the menu.

With a lot to prove, we chose liver dumpling soup (�3.80) and the sumptuously smoked trout on rye bread and cranberry horseradish (�5.80) to start.

The latter would pass for a light lunch and definitely took the honours over the thick single dumpling, sliced in broth.

My partner’s pan-fried veal wiener schnitzel (which, if you’re feeling brave, is called “wiener schnitzel vom kalb mit petersilienkartoffel und kleinem salat”) was incredibly thin, crispy and delicately flavoured.

But with so little meat in each mouthful it struggled to justify its �16.80 price tag, even when aided and abetted by some perfectly boiled potatoes with parsley, cranberry sauce and a giant salad.

Two chunky slices of salty cured ham, a small, fluffy-but-dull bread dumpling and shredded sauerkraut (�7.80) held no surprises, save for a pleasantly pokey gravy.

But my central European mole tells me the chef missed a trick not cooking the sauerkraut with the ham.

Our shared kaiserschmarren dessert (thick, shredded pancake with raisins and hot morello cherries, �5.50) was overly generous in size, if a bit doughy.

With plenty of ex-pats from central Europe chatting away around us, Kipferl might be as close to the genuine article as north London gets.

Do stop by and drink in the glorious cakes and pastries, but if it’s dinner you’re after, there are more exciting options in N1.