Bistro DéLICAT is an Austrian restaurant and there aren't too many of those in London. That's probably because Austrian cuisine is seen as a frumpy hausfrau compared to her more glamorous Mediterranean rivals. That said she scrubs up quite well when it comes to cakes and pastries. I think I'll stop developing this metaphor any further, as I can only see it getting me into trouble!
First impressions were strong; I particularly liked the contrasting white-tiled walls at the front and black-tiled walls at the back. The hanging spherical lamps are also a nice feature and combine well with the candlelight to bathe the dining room in a warm glow. Sadly, this excellent mood lighting meant that my photos didn't come out very well.
Joining me for dinner was Mr Wine, who has holidayed widely in Austria, and has a fair bit of knowledge about its food and drink. That said his expertise was wasted on those parts of the menu that were unmistakably French. I'm not sure why there was a sprinkling of French dishes but needless to say, we ignored these Gallic interlopers in favour of the full Austrian experience.
I just had to order the schupfnudeln (£7), which means rolled noodle in German. This is described as Austrian gnocchi on the menu. However, as these nudeln are rolled, they're longer than the more renowned Italian version. These were pan-seared, which gave them a tasty crust, and they were well matched with the parsley pesto and crispy onions. I couldn't really fault this excellent starter although if I was being ultra-churlish, I'd have to admit that I couldn't really detect any nuttiness from the beurre noisette.
Mr Wine enjoyed his beautifully presented smoked trout salad (£7.50) that was made with homemade remoulade and topped with lamb's lettuce. He was particularly enamoured with the roasted pumpkin seeds that added a contrasting flavour and texture to this salad. A special mention should also go to the superior rye bread that was served with our starters.
A bit of a clichéd choice but wiener schnitzel (£12) is one of my favourites. This was a fine rendition and the generous portion of veal was succulent and not at all greasy. It was served with a potato salad that had just the most amazing grainy mustard dressing. Best potato salad ever!
We didn't have room for a dessert each so we just ended up ordering one between two (well kind of, as I ended up eating the lion's share). I wanted Sachertorte but it wasn't on the menu so I ordered the sweet nougat 'knödel' (£6) instead.
|Sweet nougat knödel|
To this day, the reputation of Austrian wine is still damaged by the fall out from the antifreeze scandal. This is a shame as there is some excellent Austrian wine out there, in particular the whites. With that in mind we kicked off with a glass of the crisp and refreshing Ried Rosenberg Grüner Veltliner (2009 Anton Bauer, Wagram, Austria).
Austrian reds are less well known and we were a tad disappointed that there were only a couple on the (largely French) wine list. In the end, we opted for a bottle of Sankt Laurent (2008 Johannes Trapl, Carnuntum, Austria), a highly gluggable tipple reminiscent of Pinot Noir. This superior berry-like red confirms Mr Wine's opinion that wine from Austria demands more respect.
I don't like to drink coffee at night, as all that caffeine isn't particularly good for you. So instead, we rounded off our meal in the traditional Austrian way with some schnapps. None of that mass-market crap though, this was the good stuff and I went with apricot whilst Mr Wine plumped for raspberry.
Bistro DéLICAT is a very intimate restaurant with around 35 to 40 covers and perhaps another dozen or so seats outside. As the dining room filled, it became very buzzy but not that it was so loud that you couldn't have a conversation.
The service was amongst the best I've experienced in a long time. Our friendly but not over-familiar server was efficient and helpful. I was particularly impressed by the manner in which she let us know about the side dishes but pointed out that they might not be necessary.
The bill came to £89.70, which we rounded up to £100 or £50/head. This may seem a bit expensive but we did rather shamefully end up spending more on drinks than food. If you stripped away the booze and bottled water, the food itself cost only £43.50.
This is a neighbourhood restaurant that any neighbourhood would be happy to have. Good quality food, wine, and service in a buzzy setting – it's what eating out is all about.
Before I left, I had to find out whether they serve Sachertorte and the answer is sometimes. I'll have to make sure it's on the next time I come here.
Bistro DéLICAT, 124 Northcote Rd, Battersea, London SW11 6QU
(Tel 020-7924-3566) Nearest rail: Clapham Junction