Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lah Kopi (Coffee Stirring)

Wiener Kaffeehaus
148 Neil Road Singapore 088877
Tel: 65 6226 3148
Operating Hours 10.00am - 10.00pm

Nestled at the corner on the junction between Neil and Cantonment Roads is a coffee house that had been quietly packing in the crowds who come to appreciate their Viennese Style coffee making and brewing. Wiener Kaffeehaus is a factory, restaurant and retail shop packed into one such unit. N and I have been here several times to appreciate their various styles of coffees and traditional Austrian Sacher Torte. We love to chill out by coming here to do some reading and to enjoy its hospitality warmth and roasted coffee aromas. The cafe owner Anton Wessiman is an affable individual who mingles with and greets every table of his customers besides doing hands on in helping out with service and order taking with a sense of humour.

The coffee house deco is inspired from traditional kaffeehauses in Vienna with wall mounted lamps, crystal chandeliers and a cozy atmosphere. Art pieces sculptured by famous Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt grace the walls of the coffeehouse and some of his works have also been imprinted into the design of table lamps around. An area between the dinning room and kitchen is the playground for Anton. Here, the coffee enthusiast roast, grinds and packs his coffee beans with modern technology and traditional formulas. Besides serving it at the cafe, these freshly produced coffee powders with different blends are also available for retail. Though it's a Viennese coffeehouse by theme, the menu also features different ways of appreciating coffee with different brewing techniques and drinking cultures from around the globe. From Italian cappuccinos to Vietnamese drip coffees, there is enough variety to please most coffee aficionados.
Food wise, it’s a showcase of Austrian grubs with sausages, goulash, Cordon Bleu roast beef and Wiener Schitzel as main highlights. There are home made potato salads, deep fried Camembert Cheese and various leafy salads for lighter appetites. On the past two visits, we tried some of their items, food was consistently good although some items could be better.

The Deep Fried Camembert Cheese was oozing from its crust when served. You could choose to dip with a tartare sauce or have it smeared with a little strawberry jam. We preferred the former as the cheese was deep fried, finding the tanginess in the tartare sauce a better compliment due to the greasiness of the crust. Goulash Soup, which was a specialty of the house, came with a rather boring presentation. While the taste of the broth was still decent, the chunky character of the soup was missing with the few measly pieces of potatoes and meat. Sprinkling on the soup with dried parsely only made the soup looked more dull and tired and I wish there was also a touch of sour cream.
All the main courses that we tried fared much better. The Wiener Schiztnel (choice of pork or chicken) was one great dish of its own. Almost covering the entire plate, the breaded piece of chicken came hot, crispy and with just a squeeze of lemon or tartare sauce, N was happily engaged in deconstructing the schnitzel as I snapped pictures of the veal bratwurst. Most sausages in the pub grub and cafe menus are pretty standard and the only way to distinguish your dish is to make a rich onion gravy packed with oomph! This is what Anton just did and it made the bratwurst taste even better! I figured it must have take quite a bit of caramelized onions to achieve the robust taste of the gravy and the sweetness of the onions went very well with the salty character of such sausages.
On our second visit, we took on the Cordon Bleu and Farmers Platter. The Cordon Bleu was like a Schniztel Wrapped around a piece of ham and cheese. Needless to say, when we cut across, the aromas of melted cheese and ham simply just raised your appetite by another ten notches. The Farmers Platter was like a tasting dish on its own with smoked pork, Austrian style roast pork and a prettily cut frankfurter over the “dough” ball which is actually made from the same dough in the production of spatzle or Austrian-German noodles. Sauerkraut braised with cumin seeds and bacon forms the base on where the succulent pieces of pork rest on. The slow roasted pork collar was beautifully tender while the Smoked Cured Pork Loin tasted like premium ham. Atkin’ Dieters will love this dish for its low carbo high protein character and just the meat alone itself is already quite filling. Signature desserts here are all classic European favourites like Sachertorte, Apple Strudel and Linzer tart.

Sauchertorte is served slightly warm with whipped cream and this all dark chocolate flavoured cake with a thin coating of chocolate icing goes extremely well with any coffee on the menu. I like the Linzer Tart which is a famous raspberry jam tart from the city of Linz in Austria. Made with grounded roasted hazelnuts as its crust, the tart is criss cross with extra pastry creating diamonds of red rubies before being dusted with snow powder. The crust is all buttery and nutty with richness and simply divine. Apple strudel is made the traditional way with the stuffing of apples, raisins, cinnamon spice and crumbs wrapped in layers of phyllo pastry. This is nothing close the Aussie version that many places offer here in Singapore which, is more like a mille feuillete with custard cream.
Coffee drinking here is much more of an art and culture appreciation. U can have Vietnamese Drip coffee or the Turkish Brew with hints of Arabic Spices. Irregardless of your choice, all coffees are served traditional Austrian style on silver trays with a glass of water to rinse the palate just before you leave. N and I have tried a few variations and those with liquor are especially good like Maria Theresa. I love their Cappuccino and Latte but my favourites are still the single Kleiner and Honey Affogato.

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