“It must be the Franz Joseph Kaiserschmarrn, surely?” I can’t hide my excitement, “for the name alone, we’ve got to order that…” “Sounds like a character from Monty Python…” Larman quips by return. I see it’s a dessert, but I’m definitely ear-marking it, and as I survey the menu my enthusiasm continues unabated, “I hear the schnitzel is to die for…”

Among the multitude of offerings Larman and I have sampled over the years, German – or, in this case, Austrian – cuisine has rarely featured. Some might say for obvious reasons, but given our predilection for hearty suppers, one would think it ought to. Perhaps it’s the calibre of the offering in the capital; there simply isn’t the choice of well-executed German food. And, certainly, if our last experience, at the woeful German Gymnasium, was anything to go by, you might see why we’ve avoided it. So, could Fischer’s bid anything different?

By provenance, surely. Part of the portfolio of the Wolseley Hospitality Group, that name alone should instil confidence, and when you consider the line-up also includes Colbert, The Delaney and the institution that is Manzi’s in Soho, we should be in for some very fine fare. But wait, I hear you say, those are Corbin & King staples, are they not? Well, quite, but this follows its acquisition last year by Minor Hotels, who’ve ‘rebranded’ under the eponymous flagship. In restaurants, as in business, however, takeovers can have mixed results, and so, armed with this information, not to mention our past form at establishments of a Germanic persuasion, as Larman and I take our seats at the table we are, understandably, in cautious minds.

One thing’s for certain, the setting is spectacular. If you wanted to travel to fin de siecle Vienna, then this is your venue. Beautifully adorned booths in polished veneer and brass, lacquered tiles, regimentally hung portraits, and the centrepiece of a station clock hanging suspended from a central glass atrium, it is elegant to the core. Here, precision is beauty. It’s the sort of place where newspapers come on sticks, and even the coat hooks fold away when not required.

That precision, too, is delivered by the waitress, efficiently sweeping through our order and delivering advice with perfunctory aplomb. Faced with a menu that in places reads like a Fawlty Towers script I find my voice rising to a sharper, clipped pitch when I enquire for the explanations. We Brits can’t help ourselves, can we, as I quip for reminders of brötchen, Tafelspitz, Turpitz and the like. She doesn’t humour me. “And what is the käsespätzle?” I ask, in genuine enquiry. ‘That’s mac and cheese,’ she replies, without breaking her stride.

Dinners with Larman often involve firsts, and this is no exception. While I work on the most German dish I could order, we break new ground with a Tokaji martini, and it’s splendid, the wine adding a sharp, sweet note that offsets the dry bitterness. Presently, our starters arrive; smoked salmon and rye seems conformist for Larman when one considers some of the more German staples of Black Forest ham and pickles, or a selection of wursts, but in my determination to choose every course in the native tongue, I’m not disappointed by the Himmel und Erde. Essentially baked apple and black pudding it’s more interesting than it sounds thanks to a rather tangy sauce. Both prove more than satisfactory thanks to a crisp appley Riesling.

Our mains, however, split opinion. The schnitzel is, indeed, terrific, particularly when made ‘Holstein’ with the addition of anchovies, capers and egg. I eschewed the authenticity of a proper ‘Wiener’, admittedly, in favour of the chicken, but it was delivered in its truest sense; thin and with a distinctly crispy breadcrumb. Larman, alas, doesn’t fair as well. His wild boar stew seemed lacking and its accompany spätzle remained untouched, remonstrating at mine with sullen indifference, like a disappointed child on Christmas day, “Well, that’s just a fancy chicken nugget…”, he grunted, and sipped his Zweigelt.

The schnitzel is polished off, complete with its accompanying gravy and potato salad (yes, that works) with little room for dessert, but how can I not order that Kaiserschmarrn? Fried pancakes with sour cherry compote and thick cream, it’s exactly as you’d expect – and delightful with it – but a few mouthfuls in I am, sadly, defeated.

As I sip a schnapps, willing it to do its work as a digestif, we are, in the spirit of corporate takeovers, divided in opinion. “This is no more German than Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare,” Larman declares, but I beg to differ. An ersatz recreation Fischer’s may be, but this is the closest I’ve come to sitting in a Viennese café since enjoying a slice of Sachertorte in Café Sperl, but I’m with that earlier critic, I now know where to come for a cracking schnitzel in the capital.

Fischer’s, 50 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 5HN. For more information, including details of menus, and for bookings, please visit

Photos by David Loftus