Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Viennese treat - Bistro Delicat, Battersea

I admit the last time I was in Vienna, inter-railing aged 18, I had far from a gastronomic time. Aside from a lot of amazing cake, most of my foodie memories involve bread and cheese from supermarkets at the best, and McDonalds and Pizza Hut at the worst on a rainy Sunday after we rashly decided to take a night train to Venice on Sunday night, check out our hostel on the Sunday morning and spend the day mooching around Vienna. This would've been fine if it hadn't torrentially rained, and if, in typical European-style, almost everything been shut for Sunday. Even the cake shops. We ended up riding the underground for a dry, warm activity. It was a low point. (Although I've just discovered that one of my favourite museums in the whole world Kunst Haus Vien - a visually-intoxicating museum built by and dedicated to Austrian artist/architect Hundertwasser. The man believed strongly in colour and little in straight lines - is actually open on Sunday. We visited on Saturday.)

Anyway my knowledge of Viennese cuisine extended little beyond cakes (I blanked out the other disasters). Wiener Shnitzel maybe, but I don't think I actually ate it there as I was in my weird vegetarian phase (it was a strange time of my life). So when new restuarant Bistro Delicat opened on South West London's eatathon that is Northcote Road at the beginning of July I was intrigued. Not least because it was a new restaurant in South West London that wasn't a chain (harsh, but kinda fair). Not least because of the Ikea goes uber-chic Scandi-esque decor of black and white tiles and neat pale wood table and chairs. But because it promised Austrian cuisine, and I wasn't entiring sure what that would mean on the menu...

The Boy was away playing with cars in Hungary so I met my old uni-friend, the extra-talented and ultra-liability Jonathan. He was half-an-hour late despite living round the corner. But no matter, it gave me plenty of time to study the menu, have owner Erik introduce me to some Austrian whites (which dominates the menu, white and red - you won't find a better selection in London). The French, German and English newspapers hanging waiting to be read on the white tiled walls and the Parisian bistro soundtrack (identified immediately by Jonathan as the Amelia soundtrack, appropriately enough) gave the continental-cafe vibe. As did the multi-European staff (German chef, French sous, and vegetarian French waiter 'It's difficult in France... they don't understand...')

Rye bread and olive oil was followed (with Jonathan's eventual crashing into the restaurant) with starters: Austrian curd ravioli-type pasta Schlutzkrapfen, filled with curd cheese and spinach (a heavier touch but with more bite than traditional Italian pasta):

And a charcuterie board - German Schwarzwaelder Schinken (Black Forest ham), French Bayonne ham, Austrian Tyrol Speck, duck rillette (Erik tells us it had been cooked for 17 hours), saucisson rosette, cornichons and pickled baby onions.

Mains we opted for one more predictable yellow-fin tuna with home-made pesto and tomato salad - which was everything you'd expect, but lovely nevertheless.

The other choice was a given, and I wasn't really given a choice - 'I've been told our Wiener Schnitzel is the best this side of Vienna' says Erik. I was sold. And not disappointed. Feather-light batter, paper-thin veal and a lemon in a muslin cloth (a nice touch).

Not content with showing off the Wiener Schnitzel, Erik's enthusiasm also translated into a taster of scallops and confit pork belly, which was every bit a melting moment as you'd hope.

Sides were really a bit superfluous - ratatouille (average) and intensely and addictively garlicky spinach.

Desserts, well with my past Viennese experience how could we refuse? No cakes this time, but again we straddled continental Europe with French crêpes and Austrian sweet apricot Knödel - deliciously naughty balls of dumpling that tasted like cake gone deep fried... as with the rest of the meal the Austrian elements won out. So much so I even forgot to take a picture... oh well you'll just have to go and see for yourself.

Bistro Delicat
124 Northcote Road
SW11 6QU
020 7924 3566

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