Get poolside dining and drinking at South London hotspot The Lido Cafe. We get behind the scenes with co-founder Daniel Edwards to discuss the new menu, how it began and the popups…
The Lido Cafe is a beautiful spot for summer. How did it all begin?
I loved cooking, ingredients and restaurants – I wanted to see how I could get involved in this. I got chatting with a restaurant critic at the gym at Brockwell Lido about restaurants and how I’d like to run one and he mentioned that the gym operators were looking for someone to run the cafe. I could have opened it and sold bog-standard British park cafe fare, but then I wouldn’t have been happy. I made The Lido Cafe all about the best possible ingredients I could get my hands on, predominantly British, treating them simply and with respect.
Where did you take inspiration from for the new Summer menu?
Eating by the waters of Brockwell Lido is a treat. Because it is so unique it can be very, very busy. We only have a little kitchen, so we need to create menus that can feed a lot of people while remaining true to our ethos of seasonal, beautiful produce, treated carefully. Things like fresh Dorset crabs, served simply with Sourdough bread, salted butter and homemade aioli. Great fun to sit with a partner and crack it open with a nice bottle of Vinho Verde.
The menu celebrates British produce. Are there any traders you’re supporting specifically in sourcing ingredients?
Since day one we have worked with Rare Breed Meats in Essex – an amazing farm that rear only rare breeds of cattle and pigs, and go to great lengths to look after their animals. Our steak and steak mince are from Longhorn cattle, a rare breed and this meat is aged for 30 days, which gives the burgers and the steaks an amazing, deep flavour. Cove Fisheries fish from day boats on the South Coast and bring us up the most sparkling fresh catch every day. For those ingredients that are not from the British Isles, we go to reputed suppliers like Brindisa for our Iberico Chorizo and Morcilla. Everything is the highest quality we can find, this comes through in the dishes.
What made you decide to host the recent kitchen takeover popups, including Tem Ban and Fowl Mouths at The Lido Cafe?
We wanted to do something interesting in terms of street food and popups. We knew of some amazing chefs like Craig from Tem Ban who needed a platform to show London what they could do. Most of our customers are repeat customers as we are a neighbourhood restaurant. We wanted to kick 2016 off by innovating and giving our regulars the chance to taste something they may not have tried before. The reviews were amazing, Tem Ban and Fowl Mouths really went above and beyond to deliver some incredible food. We will be revisiting the popups and hope to try some new ones in the Autumn.
What have been your favourite dishes to try so far?
Tem Ban Thai – Whole deep fried sea bass with sweet and sour chilli dressing and crisp shallots.
Fowl Mouths – Line caught hake, clams, shiso brown butter and udon noodles; and the chocolate sesame melting ball with matcha ice cream.
What role do popups play in the food industry – for the traders and locations?
In the past it was nearly impossible for talented chefs to do their own thing without having to find masses of money or work for someone else who may not have shared their vision. Now these people can forge their own paths, and often it can lead to success. Look at som saa for example. It is giving the capital a raft of new exciting places to eat and opportunities for people to be their own boss and create their own future.
Will there be any events over summer to look out for at The Lido Cafe?
Luna Cinema is back once more with their outdoor blow up cinema screen. Jaws sold out instantly! But there are still tickets for their other screenings. We focus more on events and popups in the colder months, and are currently working on a Scandi-themed Christmas with a well-known operator.
Your favourite food local loves in London…
Naughty Piglets in Brixton is great for date night, lovely attention to service, ingredients and dishes. Toast ED on Lordship Lane in Dulwich is always good for lunch. The Dairy in Clapham is our “go to” place for an amazing treat night out. For streetfood, Kricket do the most amazing South Indian inspired streetfood – they are based in POP Brixton.
The Lido Cafe | Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Rd, London SE24 0PA