The Lido Café is an odd little venue, serving quality, local food. A short walk from Herne Hill station, this all-day restaurant is attached to Brockwell Lido, with an atmosphere reminiscent of the dying tradition of lidos – charming and nostalgic, if a little tired. The décor is era-less/muted Ikea chic, with a makeshift feel, the converted nature of the place apparent, with the rippling pool visible through the window doors.
On the evening we dined there, the place was busy so I was not greeted at the door, but my friend Andrew was already seated at a table, so I went to join him. The service was nevertheless warm and inviting. The changing seasonal menu was reassuringly concise, though we were warned before we ordered that they had already run out of certain items , and the drinks menu was impressively diverse, with short, hot and frizzante cocktails, a wide selection of wines, and some locally brewed beers. I opted for a bottle of the Brixton Brewery Atlantic APA, which was fruity, though had a very dry, bitter aftertaste, while Andrew, only one day shy of completing Dry January, had a fresh apple juice.
To start we had the deep-fried pig’s ears with truffle mayonnaise, more out of curiosity than anything else, and the large charcuterie platter. The pig’s ears were delectable – the flavour of the pork came through powerfully, with a distinct crunchy texture beneath the batter, and the truffle mayonnaise was delicious. The Ogleshield cheese from the charcuterie deserves a special mention, along with the delightfully sharp, flavourful caperberries and accompanying fresh brown bread.
For mains, I opted for the braised longhorn short ribs with parsley dumplings and – mustard and carrot puree. It was supposed to come with roasted bone marrow, which I was looking forward to, but a few minutes after ordering, they informed me that they had also run out of that and would give me an extra portion of ribs instead, which was disappointing. However the ribs, off the bone, were melt-in-the-mouth marvellous, as was the puree, though the dumplings seemed more like compressed, somewhat dry gnocchi. Andrew went for the TLC fish pie, which was very good, particularly the braised baby leeks on the side.
For dessert I got a scoop of pistachio ice cream while Andrew got a rhubarb and custard pie, all washed down with mint teas. The pie was interesting, with the custard on the inside of the pie and the rhubarb outside; it was tasty and not too sweet, though at £6 was highly overpriced, especially as the portion size was tiny. The scoop of pistachio ice cream was also startlingly small, though it was extremely nutty – a very high real pistachio content – and not overly sweet, which allowed me to feel less guilty about ordering dessert at least.
Overall not a bad dining experience with a pleasant enough atmosphere, fresh food and fine ingredients, though the depleted menu was a disappointment, and price rather high.
Price – £71.60 for the two of us – somewhat overpriced.
Service – Friendly.
Ambience – Perfect for a catch-up with a friend, the noise levels were just right for talking without having to shout or whisper, and the lighting was also just the right balance.
Bathroom – Two unisex, self-contained cubicles; small but clean and smelt nice.
For bookings and further information please visit: www.thelidocafe.co.uk