I’m always slightly nervous when recommending a restaurant of a certain ethnicity to a friend who’s also of that background. When I suggested Kipferl Angel to my fellow therapy trainee N, I was slightly nervous. Although not Austrian, she’s from a neighbouring land. I feared she’d find Kipferl lacking, but hoped that it would fill her heart with fond memories of childhood treats. Nervously, we sat off.
Camden Passage is one of those quintessential London streets capes. It used to be that you’d have to queue at Breakfast Club or the Elk for a coffee and a snack, but in the last twelve months or so it’s been inundated with at four or five places worth frequenting. Spoilt for choice, innit.
Kipferl has something decidedly unique about it. The food, we’ll come onto. But it’s also got the certain very european atmosphere. The wonderful interior is lined with a raw or very naturally finished timber, then there’s the mandatory filament lights you’d expect in any London cafe who’s twitter profile proclaims it to be trendy. Most of all, it has stacks of natural light, giving it an airy feel. Blur your eyes a little and you might think you’re in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or, even Vienna.
And that brings me to the food. N suggested we start with the Austrian cordials, which, as a caffeine freak I’d never tried. They were great. Not too sweet, both those we tried were fruity and spiced. We sat for hours and analysed the significance of three vs. four ice cubes. (Kidding). But we did dig deep into some childhood memories of coming home from school on a summery day, to find watery cordial had been prepared.
We both had mains, but it took some time to decide. The menu has a selection of soups and salads. Vegetarian options are pretty light on, but that didn’t seem to concern N, who opted for what could only be described as a massive sausage, served with sauerkraut and a viciously sliced gherkin. To my horror (and amusement), the sausage was filled with a cheese. At one point N excitedly exclaimed that the sausage reminded her of home. It was clear, my work here was done.
I ordered a Käsespätzle, a noodle and cheese pan bake (the chef was making up for the lack of meat with a compensatory quantity of oil – not that I cared too much, the dish really worked) which was served with a serious chunk of side salad. While we ate, we reflected on, amongst other things, the significance of food in both of our lives. Our family upbringings and what it food meant in that context. In the days since our lunch I’ve read more about the symbolism of food. That it’s one of those uniquely human experiences. It binds us, it makes us who we are – nutritionally and culturally. It’s a foundation of our social experience and often, our spiritual rites and identity. I couldn’t agree more. (Related post: What does food mean to you?).
Navel gazing and main course devouring aside, we both agreed that although we didn’t need it, no trip to an Austrian cafe would be complete without the apfelstrudel. Having recently observed Mary Berry devour several strudel on the Great British Bake-off, I have to say, that the bottom of ours was slightly soggy. That said – we thought it best to share a slice and fought over every spoon full.
20 Camden Passage
London, N1 8ED
020 7704 1555
Reviewer: Jared –