Food blogging is a great hobby to have. You cook at home, share what you do and by some wonderful miracle, others follow, and you pass on your knowledge. Similarly, you go out and you can share your experiences and tips with people via reviews. Meeting other food and drink loving people is another wonderful element. I’ve met some completely amazing people through twitter and through events.
Fiona Maclean of London Unattached and Tash of Food I Fancy are food bloggers I met at the African cooking class I was invited to (writeup here: http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/a-taste-of-africa-cooking-class.html). I’ve been in touch ever since and they are now people I can count as friends. I have learnt so much from their blogs, but also from talking to them, and contacting them online. You'll find their blogs here http://www.london-unattached.com/ and here http://www.foodifancy.com/
Fiona very kindly invited us to come and have a meal with her at Brockwell Lido on account of us being South Londoners. We were pleased to have the opportunity to get together and have a good catch up, and also to try the restaurant which won the award for Best Park Restaurant in the Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards 2011.
We booked with more regard to our diaries and free time more than anything else. So we were surprised and delighted to find on the day in question, that we had picked a gloriously sunny and balmy evening for our meal. The makings of a perfect evening!
We began with cocktails…
I chose the Rangoon at £7.50, described as “Pimms’ No1 Cup and Martini Rosso shaken over ice then finished with Luscombe Ginger Beer and garnished with Berries”. It had a lovely gingery tang which I really enjoyed, and was long and refreshing, as a Summer cocktail should be!
The Elderflower Sherbert (£7.25) featured “Sipsmith London Gin, Elderflower cordial and fresh Lemon Juice topped with soda water and poured over ice”. Normally, I give gin a bit of a wide berth as I find its taste a little bitter for my liking. This cocktail, however, was gentle and refreshing.
The Aperol Spritz here at the Lido is £7.75. This drink is swiftly becoming an iconic Summer cocktail across Europe. The Lido’s mix is described as “Aperol, Prosecco and Soda with a garnish of fresh Orange” and the balance of bitter, dry and sweet achieved is very pleasing indeed. It is little wonder this drink is sweeping across the continent and coming to a bar near you this season!
On the starters front, Tash chose the Chorizo, squid, chickpea, chilli and rocket salad at £6.25. The colours on the plate looked vibrant and delightful. I simply had to have a try! The squid was perfectly (just) cooked, and combined well with paprika spice of the chorizo, peppery herbiness of the rocket and al dente texture of the chickpeas. A very lovely starter indeed.
I elected for the Half a pint of Atlantic prawns with roast garlic aioli and lemon £5.75, and thoroughly enjoyed pulling the heads and tails from the fresh and succulent prawns. The roast garlic aioli added a sweet and tempered garlic flavour. I was taken back to student days when I used to visit East Sussex pubs and eateries in my student days with pints of prawns by the sea or on the Downs.
Fiona decided upon the Small charcuterie plate with pickled vegetables & sourdough bread which is normally £6.95, featuring Salchichon and iberico chorizo from Leon, Spain; English ‘Nduja and wild mushroom & truffles saucisson from Moon’s Green, Kent.
Her portion was without question the best value starter, with oodles of meat and a good amount of freshly baked bread. There was more than enough to allow us to have a decent sampling. My personal favourite item was the English saucission, with its truffle aroma trumping the rest. But in all honesty everything on this plate was tasty, and wonderful for al fresco eating. It was like being on Las Ramblas in Barcelona on a sunny warm night.
We then moved onto the main courses.
I went for the Cardamom confit free range duck leg, saffron pilaf, goats curd, english asparagus and preserved lemon for £16.
The duck was still moist and tender on the inside, unlike some confits which can be much too dry. The pilaf was delicately flavoured with a hint of saffron pitched just perfectly. It’s an ingredient one can easily overdo out of a misguided notion that using more of an expensive ingredient must mean a better result. The asparagus and preserved lemon were interesting accompaniments which went together well with the whole dish. I enjoyed this course very much, and slightly to the envy of my companions.
Fiona chose the Dry aged, rare breed beef burger in a brioche bun with triple cooked chips, £10, as she was fascinated by how the aging and provenance of the beef would change the taste and texture of the burger. Fiona had the burger done rare, which my picture does not show, as the outside was seared. She asked for extra Emmenthal on top. This was a superb burger, large without being ridiculous, good meat to bread ratio, tender and without too much fat or grease. A burger to give any of the posh burger chains a run for their money!
Tash was feeling like something meaty so she selected the 35 day, dry aged longhorn sirloin steak on the bone with triple cooked chips, watercress, red wine and bay sauce £18.50. I don’t think I have ever seen such a generous portion of steak! Tash asked for it to be done medium, and personally I would have called this medium rare or even rare. Never mind, it was delicious. Easy to cut, high quality meat which was full of deep, full glorious flavour. 35 days of aging has truly made a difference!
Strawberry and frangipan tart with clotted cream £5.50
This was Tash’s pudding, and she chose well. Sometimes I am sceptical about Frangipan as it can be bitter, as the almonds used can sometimes add bitterness. This was luscious and without any bitter taste at all. The strawberries, through being cooked had developed a deep sweetness.
Vanilla roast peach with maple syrup and mascarpone £5.50
Roast peaches are a pudding many of us who aren’t good at baked puddings make when we have guests. But it is all too easy to cook them for too long, and then you have… well, mush! These peaches were just cooked and complimented nicely by the soft, creamy mascarpone and maple syrup.
Home made ice creams, made at the Lido, with a cantucci biscuit £5.50
This was my choice. I passed on the biscuit. I have recently rediscovered a love of ice cream after twenty years. This was three scoops of ice cream in three different flavours, all made with natural flavourings in the Lido restaurant. The vanilla was fragrant and full of delicate vanilla flavours. The strawberry was full of strawberry juice and tiny pieces of strawberry, making it full flavoured and extremely enjoyable. However, the best was the pistachio, which was very generously studded with bits of pistachio kernel and was blended perfectly. This is a flavour which isn’t always made well, either too creamy, or too sweet, and often the expensive nuts are skimped on. This was far from it. Delicious. I could have licked the bowl!
We ate here as guests in order to review the restaurant. However, I would have gladly come here for a meal I’d pay for. The atmosphere was wonderful outside, with other diners happily chatting and enjoying their food, and the swimmers enjoying a dip on a hot sunny day. It was enjoyable watching the swimmers make their lengths as we ate, really making us feel Summery. The inside of the restaurant would be a lovely space to eat during less pleasant weather, so a good evening out need not depend on the weather.
The service we had was exemplary, and this was despite the fact that our waitress did not know until we were practically leaving that we were review diners. Now that is precisely the service you want; done well through professionalism and dedication.
I would definitely eat here again, and would recommend it. Get here whilst the sun is still shining!
Fiona, Tash and I ate at Brockwell Lido as guests.
Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Rd, London, SE24 0PA
020 7737 8183
Fiona has recently been thinking a lot about the social element involved in blogging. As a result, she has come up with the idea of "Fab First Friday Linky and Blog Love". A simple system to connect bloggers, we each choose a favourite post from July, add a link back to Fiona's post explaining Fab First Friday, and we try to connect with each other's blogs and posts.
I chose this particular post because it was written about a very wonderful evening I had spending time with two like minded and lovely people who also happen to be bloggers too!
If you want to find out more about Fab First Friday, have a look here: http://www.london-unattached.com/2013/08/fabulous-first-friday/