Brockwell Park Lido Cafe – Basking in the Summer Sun
What do Londoners do when the sun shows its face? Well find somewhere al-fresco to dine of course. The slightest hint of sun and it sometimes feels as if half the Capital has decamped from their sofas and are drinking and dining outside. Being something of a West London Girl, Brockwell Park is not normally on my radar, but I’d heard rumours from friends that it was worth a visit, so was delighted to accept the invitation to review. Especially as I was meeting two other food bloggers, Snigdha from Snigs Kitchen and Tash from Food I Fancy.
The Lido Café at Brockwell Park looks out over an open air pool. So, if you are concerned about the calories you could just go for a pre-dinner dip. Or hope, like me, that you burn off virtual calories by watching the energetic swimmers as you dine. We started our meal with cocktails. My elderflower sherbert was a lovely long, gin based drink, with Sipsmith London gin, elderflower cordial and lemon juice. A beautiful summer drink that was refreshing without lacking kick!
My companions ordered a Rangoon and an Aperol Spritz. All priced under £8 and made with excellent quality ingredients like Luscombe Ginger Beer, the cocktail list is a thing of great beauty.
But, it was food we’d come for. I ordered the charcuterie platter and have failed dismally to do it justice in the picture.
I’d particularly wanted to try the ‘English ‘nduja’ and the wild mushroom and saucisson which my companions had already eaten elsewhere. For me the ‘nduja lacked a little spice, although I’ve never eaten it cold before – so maybe my palate expectation was coloured by experience. The much lauded saucisson deserved its praise. I tried a prawn – ultra fresh and tender. And, once we’d tasted, we were all jealous of Tasha’s chorizo, squid, chickpea and rocket salad.
On to mains. London has gone burger crazy and although I’m definitely NOT an expert, the idea of a ‘dry aged rare breed beef burger’ fascinated me. I ordered mine with some extra emmental cheese, but virtuously avoided adding old spot bacon;) . Now for my personal taste this was an excellent burger. I’d asked for it rare…and it arrived perfectly cooked. The meat was meltingly tender and very well flavoured. And, it wasn’t overly greasy. I appreciate that for some the grease is part of the experience. If that’s you, I’d suggest adding the bacon!
I tasted a bit of Tash’s steak. She’s a medium kind of girl, while I like my steak rare. But, the test of excellent quality meat is that it works well no matter how you cook it. And this had all the depth of taste you’d expect of great beef and wasn’t at all dry.
My favourite of the main courses though, was Snigdha’s confit duck. I know that next time I visit, it will be the squid and chorizo followed by confit duck for me. Both just lovely dishes with unusual flavour combinations.
We probably SHOULDN’T have gone on to order desserts, but we did…and no one had any regrets. My baked peaches were a little difficult to eat with just a spoon, but perfectly cooked…any softer and they’d have been overdone. I didn’t actually taste the strawberry flan, I have quite a bad strawberry allergy and try my best to avoid ending up the same colour as one, which in Willy Wonka style is what happens if I eat them!
But, the Pistachio ice-cream of the trio of home-made ices was, as tweeted several times, quite sublime. And, our matched dessert wines just made the evening better, although perhaps account for the need to straighten my final shot of the lido!
I’d recommend the Lido Cafe at this time of the year. There’s a party atmosphere whether you are inside or out. Our meal was complimentary, but with the burger and fries at £10 and most of the mains well under £15, this place won’t break the bank. A bottle of wine will set you back £18-£25, but there are plenty of options by the glass or carafe.