Set on Windmill st, just off Tottenham Court rd, Boopshi’s was relatively quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and a thoroughly pleasant place for a late lunch. It’s bright and airy in a way that “modernized Austrian schnitzel joint” just does not suggest. It’s more style bar than beer cellar, and I absolutely do mean that in the good way. It’s tasty.
Eating in London, I seem to wind up at these mildly-ridiculous monoconcept noshing houses. As a grotesque self-parody, I’m ok with this, and Boopshi’s is another good one. So was Bubbledogs, who only serve champagne and hot dogs, and you can probably guess what Garlic and Shots do. They’re on the list for next time.
Boopshi’s serve schnitzel and spritz. Schnitzel and spritz are good, and we had plenty of both on our trip round central Europe last year. Oh, they have other things too, things I’d like to go back and try, but the stars are the schnitzel and spritz.
If you don’t know, schnitzel is a slab of meat that’s been beaten out thin, breaded, and deep-fried. What’s not to like? Spritz is an Italian aperitif cocktail that’s caught on all over Europe. It was everywhere in Austria when we were there, I assume because it’s a more appetising alternative to the white wine spritzer. It’s prosecco with a splash of something in it, usually Aperol.
At Boopshi’s, there’s quite a range, and I went for Spritz #2: Aperol, Sherbet, Lemon Soda, and Prosecco. It’s their closest to the basic, and a welcome zingy twist. They’re served in huge round glasses with oodles of ice like the most refreshing gin and tonic, and to similar effect. It’s worryingly drinkable. They also have a few beers and some very reasonably-priced on-tap prosecco, although I found that a little tart.
Good spritz, Bopshi’s, good spritz. Now, what of the schnitzel?
There’s only so much you can say about a flattened-out piece of meat you’ve breadcrumbed and fried. It all turns on the produce quality, and on not being over-crispy. The rest of the work is done by the sides, and since one of those was cheesy spätzle, there was really very little chance of my not loving this.
We both had schnitzel, the (rare breed) pork for me, the rose veal for Kit. On the side, spätzle, sauerkraut, and fries. You can get the schnitzel topped with eggs, anchovies, or capers (taking it worryingly close to a parmo), but we skipped this, feeling it might be a little heavy.
The food turns up on those white and blue enamel plates, unpretentious, and unfussy. The lone nod to presentation is half a lemon, and I’m loving this before I’ve taken a bite. It’s not fucking-about food, and they haven’t fucked about. The schnitzel is beaten thinner than many I’ve had, and fried a rich golden brown without being overdone. I’d prefer slightly thicker in general, for the mouth feel, but his hasn’t taken a succulence hit.
They’ve chosen the pork pretty well, too, as you’d expect if it’s the one thing you’ll be tasting. It’s got depth to the flavour, all intense and savoury. It’s a fine slab of fried pig.
Now, let’s talk spätzle.
First off, it’s good. The little noodle/dumplings themselves aren’t too soft – they’ve still got just enough bite, and a good texture. They haven’t really been flavoured themselves, and they’re in a light cheese sauce. Making this myself, I’d have gone with more sauce volume.These weren’t dry exactly, but more would have worked. Likewise, I would probably have taken a stronger cheese to it, and grilled the top less aggressively. Any darker or more gratinated would have been an issue.
The sauerkraut was a pleasant surprise. I mean, what are you going to do with sauerkraut? It turns out Boopshi’s are going to make sure it’s not too vinegary, and serve it seasoned well with juniper, cumin and fennel seeds, and a little bay leaf. Good call. It makes it a bit more interesting, and the flavours pair beautifully with the piggy intensity of the schnitzel. If I ever crave spritz and just go there drinking, I’m getting the sauerkraut as a bar snack. Actually, that should totally be a thing. Someone get on that.
The rest of the menu looks worth coming back for. The couple next to us were eating the sausages: a bratwurst and a kaese bockwurst (sausage with cheese). They looked good. There’s also a few modern-twist Austrian mains on offer. Ox tongue with lentils, carrots, and horseradish sounds like something I should be eating, and may be a delightful take on Tafelspitz. Smoked eel with leaves, bacon, and a quail’s egg? Yeah, that should probably happen too.
Boopshi’s is good. There’s only so far an unpretentious schnitzel place can blow you away, but they do what they do very well. It’s as good as any I had in Austria, and the sauerkraut is splendid. It’s got a fine ambience, too – high ceilings, plain colours, reclaimed furniture, friendly service. They’ve been open since December, and have apparently been a bit quiet lately. I’d chalk that up to the location which – however central – isn’t the most intuitive for a restaurant. They certainly deserve to be far busier than we found them – it’s a fun concept, not ostentatious, and the food is good enough that the substance can more than see over the style.