Vienna Café

It’s seemingly a faithful recreation of a Viennese coffee shop: shiny walnut veneered tables, a selection of international newspapers for perusal, a soundtrack of light classical music and an assortment of elaborate cakes for guzzling. Although everything on the extensive menu has been translated into German, only a small number of the dishes appear to be typical of Viennese cuisine – we could find no evidence that Sigmund Freud ever ordered a tuna fish baguette, nor are we able to deduce how he would have interpreted one. Trying to remain faithful to Germanophone gastronomy wherever possible, we tackled the pretzels from the bread basket. They were too dry and the accompanying butter was as rock-hard as a Schwarzenegger bicep. Our soups were of mixed quality. The kartoffelsuppe (potato soup) had a fine consistency and had been assertively seasoned; the vegetables packed crunch and flavour. The meat in my goulash was far too fatty though, spoiling a delicious broth. My main course was poor and at Dhs64, discourteously overpriced. According to the menu my wiener schnitzel (veal escalope) was to be served with lemon, anchovies and capers. On a thin slither of breaded, bland, misshapen meat, I could identify a citrus tang, but the other two ingredients seemed mysteriously absent. A huge pile of french fries towered over the schnitzel, but the plate was sadly lacking in salad. My vegetarian companion strayed from the carnivorous Austro-Germanic mains and tried the vegetarische lasagne mit ratatouille. It wasn’t much good either: the pasta had been overcooked and the finely-chopped vegetables were too small to contribute any flavour. The cakes looked splendid and deserved the courtesy of a ceremonial dessert table. The delicious Montmorency cake, with cherries, vanilla mousse, pralines and almonds, featured a dazzling diamond-shaped tessellation. My strawberry tart’s almond cream base had a winning texture and flavour – it tasted like a cross between couscous and marzipan – but was let down by a topping of tough flavourless fruit. The café’s centrepiece is a statue of a Lipizzaner horse seemingly intent on breaking free from his mould and galloping far away. We followed his lead and made swiftly for the exit.

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