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We’ve called on freelance journalist Lisa Reinisch from Austria to tell us where to find the best bits of Austrian culture in London.
Now, Austrians aren’t exactly London’s most conspicuous group of expatriates: they don’t have a newspaper, neighbourhood or parade, and they are habitually mistaken for Germans. But there are a few great little Austrian places scattered across London, usually where you least expect them, and busy with wistful expats savouring a little bit of Austrianness in the Big City.
Stroll around the corner from Barbican Tube station, for example, and you’ll find Kipferl, an excellent delikatessen and café named after the crescent-shaped pastry first made in Austria sometime in the 13th century. Yes, the croissant is an Austrian invention! Understandably, the French do not like to be reminded of this inconvenient historical truth. Most Austrian bakeries are on a par with the best French patisseries and, as a result, the dubious quality of British bakery products is a subject Austrians can and will discuss at length.
Kipferl has great Viennese-style coffee and a deli counter with a good selection of cheeses, cold meats and patisserie. There are also a few shelves of popular sweets, preserves and drinks.
With the primary need of comfort snacking taken care of, it’s time to make your way to the Freud Museum in Hampstead and get an insight into the life of one of the legendary intellectuals of early 20th-century Vienna. The main attraction here is Freud’s old study, which contains “the couch” as well as the original oriental rugs, books and antiques the father of psychoanalysis liked to surround himself with.
Having pondered the life and work of a Viennese genius, you may want to explore a less high-brow side of Austrian culture. The Tiroler Hut in Notting Hill is just the spot: a full-blown Alpine kitsch extravaganza, complete with staff in Dirndls and Lederhosen.
Opened in 1967, this dark, vaulted restaurant and beer cellar doesn’t have the hallmarks of a celebrity hotspot by any length of the imagination. But apparently even people like Kate Moss and Hugh Grant are up for a Schnaps-fuelled Austrian dinner followed by the “legendary” Sound of Music sing-a-long and cow bell show every once in a while. One of London’s truly great, ironic nights out.
Do you have any more tips for enjoying Austrian culture in London? Let us know…