“How come you’re going there? It’s not your sort of place at all” said my colleague as I walked out the office.
Not the best thing to hear just before setting off to review a restaurant - but fortunately in the case of Bodo’s Schloss the person who said it could not have been more wrong.
For proof of this you need look no further than it’s extensive, and wonderfully interactive, website which boasts prominently on one of its pages ‘Bodo’s Schloss is your place’!
This Austrian-themed restaurant and nightclub hidden beneath the imposing Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street is famous for being a hangout for the younger royals when they’re staying at Kensington Palace next door.
Well if it’s good enough for Prince Harry, then dammit it’s good enough for me!
I did have a moment of quiet panic when I remembered the friend I was taking with me for this experience was a Hungarian.
However, having been reassured that relations between the two countries were still very congenial despite the dissolving of their joint empire I was very much looking forward to the night ahead as we stepped through the door (saying good evening to a large model of a cow as we did so).
The first thing that hits you is how friendly the staff (all dressed in authentic Austrian costume - Lederhosen for the men, dirndls for the women) are. In no time we were being greeted warmly by the manager and put in the capable hands of one of his waiters.
Warmth and comfort positively seeps out of every wall and piece of furniture and despite the fact the candles are battery powered and not real, the whole interior felt just like being inside a rustic ski lodge.
We loved everything instantly, from the sledges on the walls to the faux windows, giant bells and large collection of antlers doubling as light fittings.
I must also give a big salute to the music choice which seemed like it came straight from my own CD collection as we had everything from Vienna by Ultravox to Crash by the Primitives.
Yes it’s kitsch, but so what?!
First up for decision was whether to go with wine or cocktails, but to be honest just one look at the list of drinks was enough to convince us it had to be both!
My own choice was delicious, but unremarkable in comparison to my friend’s choice which was named St Bernard and actually served in a china mug styled to look like the famous mountain rescue dog.
Happily sipping away it was time to turn our attention to the menu and at this point is it is important to bear in mind our visit was taking place on a theme night called Fondue Wednesday.
Anyone care to guess what the house speciality is on these days?
Now just to be awkward, we didn’t actually fancy any fondue, so that meant we had to choose from a reduced main menu instead.
Stupidly I didn’t check whether it is possible to ask for more dishes to be included than those written down, but certainly in the case of the mains we chose it would have been good to pair them with a few side dishes.
Leaving that oversight aside, I’m pleased to report the starters were both faultless and could easily have served as main courses on their own.
My winter goat’s cheese salad (£8) was packed with flavour, the saltiness of the cheese melding perfectly with the tang of beetroot and crunch of lettuce and croutons.
My friend’s Schloss chicken Caesar salad (£8) paid equal attention to its ingredients, the sharp cheese working alongside the tender chicken and spring vegetables. Although my friend was surprised to find real anchovies instead of an anchovy-flavoured sauce like she was expecting.
For mains we went all out Austrian, a pan engulfing tender cut of chicken served Wiener Schnitzel style with a simple side of red currant jelly (£15) and a lamb goulash with crispy spaetzle and toasted hazlenuts (£17).
Both were cooked to perfection, both were delicious, but our only criticism is that with no potatoes or salads on the side, they did lack a bit of punch.
The goulash would definitely have been enhanced by some vegetables and the chicken needed some cabbage or a good bowl of wilted spinach in my opinion.
For dessert we gave in and let the waiter bring us a chocolate fondue which for any non-aficionados is a pot of chocolate kept liquid over a burner that you dip a variety of items into with the aid of skewers.
In the past I’ve done strawberries and marshmallows, but at Bodo’s invention is key so alongside these staples we also had rum and lime soaked pineapple, amaretti biscuits, Belgian waffles and even Haribo mixed sweets!
There was also a side serving of that popping candy that makes your mouth and ears crackle the minute you eat it.
By the end of our meal the place was nicely busy and things got even more lively when a 5 piece band burst into the room and began touring the tables serenading diners with songs.
Normally I cringe with embarrassment at such gestures, but again we were having such a good time it seemed the most natural dinner accompaniment possible.
Guests clapped along to Rock With You, Shine and Don’t Stop Believing and my friend and I were ever picked out for uncomfortably intimate renditions of Blue Moon and How Deep Is Your Love!
We literally didn’t want the night to end, but finally we had to head for the exits, noting as we did how popular the bar area was even on a Wednesday.
It’s definitely worth lingering in this area as the bar staff are every bit as professional as the restaurant team and the array of schnapps on display is truly mind-boggling.
With typical Austrian efficiency there is almost nothing that Bodo’s can’t or won’t do for you, whether it’s arranging a bespoke private party with live huskies, or allowing you to create and name your own cocktail.
On Thursdays to Saturdays they open until 3am with their famous disco nights which regularly attract A-list celebrities.
Not my kind of place? Was für ein Unsinn!
Call 02079375506 or visit www.bodosschloss.com