Fischer’s is Austria made safe for liberals, gays, Jews and other Untermenschen riffraff, because it is a restaurant, not a concentration camp, and because it is in Marylebone High Street, not Linz. It is the new restaurant from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, who opened the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel, and it is more profound and lovely than any of them.
There is always a clock in a Corbin and King restaurant, a big old clock from some fairytale train station, poised over the clientele as they stuff and age; for remembrance of mortality, I guess. Or maybe they just like big clocks? In any case, the guests here need it, for they are the surviving remnants of pre-war central European Jewry, who know about time and its meaning and importance, and who used to go to Cosmo in the Finchley Road and then, when it closed, to Oslo Court, a restaurant so ancient it serves crudités with salad cream, and so pink it thinks the Disney Princess brand is butch. They have huge Miami Jewish woman hair and ravaged, very interesting faces; they glide, as if on skateboards, across history. If you can canvass with dining, Fischer’s should be mandatory for Ukip supporters and xenophobes everywhere. It is an advertisement for the benefits of refugees, and it is very beautiful: art deco, well-lit, with polished wood, and long. It has good tablecloths, serious silverware and lots of art, so the wandering Jew can visit Austria in its mind while sitting down, and laugh, or weep, or simply have a panic attack face down in a strudel. I cannot emphasise how wonderful it is for a Jew to visit Austria without actually having to visit Austria; it is comforting. When I last wrote about such matters, and said that the Famous Bavarian Village in the Winter Wonderland theme park was rubbish, because there was no Hitler and he was famous, readers wrote in to complain that a racist Jew who hated Bavarians was writing the restaurant column, and she should be reported to some or other commission to be re-educated in the proper language of liberalism. I would now like to take the opportunity to say that I take such complaints very seriously. On that particular occasion, I laughed for five whole days. Then I wondered if The Spectator’s funds would stretch to sending me to the Eagle’s Nest, which is now the world’s wackiest tea room, so I could do it again. Is the Eagle’s Nest self-service, a buffet, à la carte? I long to know.
There are paintings of pastoral idylls — how idyllic depends on your ethnicity, politics and sexual orientation, I suppose — and men smoking pipes in strange hats, and people looking intense and unhappy in pre-war Viennese apartment blocks, as if about to have angry sex on good rugs, from which they will produce angry children who will hate them. Corbin and King have written a fictional back story for Fischer’s, so guests can play at dining with Freud and Jung, which I suspect sounds more fun than it was. They pretend that it is owned by a Jewish/Catholic couple called Otto and Maria Fischer, who had a restaurant on the Ringstrasse in Vienna, but fled Austria in 1927 (due to anti-Semitism, la!) and so came to Marylebone High Street. I can only wish that KFC had a similar creation myth, involving foxes; in truth this restaurant doesn’t need one. Corbin and King know how to create a hinterland, and I suspect this gift is unconscious. They do not need to try.
The staff are in pared-down Tyrol chic — dark green waistcoats. And they bring, in this order, glorious fat sausages with potato salad, a herring doused in mustard, four vast and golden schnitzels, strudels, pastries, wine. I love this restaurant. To a Jew scared of continental Europe, yet greedy for its pastries, it’s wondrous.
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Fischer’s, 50 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5HN; tel: 020 7466 5501.
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