The Lido Kitchen, Portishead: Review
Having opened on March 30th, in time for the new season of the 50th anniversary of the Portishead Lido, The Lido Kitchen is the newest addition to Portishead’s restaurant scene. Set in the former poolside cafe at the open air swimming pool, the venue is the brainchild of local businessman James Savage – part of the team behind successful Bristol venues The Spotted Cow and The Bank, among others.
James’ expertise is combined with a man of similar calibre behind the food. Nathan Muir, known to many as the force behind the success of The Robin Hood’s Retreat and The New Inn at Backwell, has created a range of menus for The Lido Kitchen that provide freshly cooked food at affordable prices at all times of the day. You can see sample menus here.
Their breakfast menu looks fantastic, and a la carte menus are on offer for both lunch and dinner service. A range of tapas options, priced at around £4 per dish, gives diners an alternative option, and when the pool re-opens in mid-April, a range of poolside options – including ice creams and hot dogs – will also be available.
We visited on a Tuesday lunchtime, when we were offered a choice of a la carte dishes including ciabatta sandwiches and hot food options. On this occasion, however, we opted for the very reasonably priced set lunch menu, offering a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts, priced at £9 for two courses or £11.50 for three.
We passed on the extensive range of spirits, wine list and draught beers and cider (Bath Ales Gem, Stowford Press and Estrella), and instead opted for an elderflower and rose soft drink from local company Lovely Drinks to accompany our meal.
While we waited for our food to be served, we took the opportunity to observe our surroundings. Wooden tables are paired with a mismatched selection of chairs, and one corner of the room is a dedicated lounge area, with comfortable-looking sofas and a wood burning stove. The orange theme running through the restaurant – from the chairs to the flowers to the wall behind the bar – gives the whole place a fresh and vibrant feel, and this, combined with the massive windows with views of the Severn Estuary (and the Lido itself on one side) and modern wood-panelled bar, almost makes you feel like you’re eating in a beach hut.
At 1pm on a Tuesday not long past the opening date, the restaurant was fairly busy, giving a lovely buzz to the place.
My dining companion chose the house rillette with toast and pickles as her starter, an attractively presented dish served on a slate and garnished with cucumber, spring onions and parsley. “Meaty, satisfying and really tasty”, was how she described the dish, saying that it was a generous portion, but she would have liked more bread to go with the vast quantities of beautifully sweet and tangy chutney and meat.
For my starter, the potato soup with a blue cheese rarebit. A bit of a contrast here in the presentation, with mine served on top of a serviette, presumably to prevent the bowl from sliding across the plate. From smart bistro style presentation of my friend’s starter to a much more informal presentation of mine, it all seemed a little confused. No complaints with the meal itself, though – the portion of soup was huge, but wonderfully creamy with a peppery kick to each mouthful. The rarebit could well have been overpoweringly salty, with the vast amount of Stilton sitting on top, but this was tempered by the addition of caramelised onions and small chunks of sweet pear. Very happy indeed.
We had both ordered the same main course (the Lido cafe steak burger, served with French fries, tomato relish, Stilton, onions and salad), but had very different opinions of our mains – hence I’m always keen to point out that my write ups are always very much based on my personal experience on the day! We both agreed that the plate of food was beautifully presented (although those black serviettes made an appearance again, which was a little odd), and the portion was enormous, especially for a lunchtime meal.
Personally, I thought the burger was delicious, the meat slightly charred on the outside, the inside still ever so slightly pink, and the meat held its own against a perfectly portioned topping of melted Stilton and caramelised onions for the size of the burger. The size of the plate of food was a little daunting, though, and I found myself apologetically leaving some of my meal.
My friend also commented that the patty was little bit too big for her, personally, and hers didn’t have the same amount of charring on the outside for taste. Her view was that it could have done with being reduced by a third and cooked more fiercely.
The rapidity with which our stomachs were filling meant that we opted for a dessert to share, and it was the rhubarb crumble with pouring cream that had caught our eye as soon as we had sat down to look at the menu. Two of The Lido Kitchen’s employees had – independently of each other – recommended the crumble on the day, so it would have been rude not to!
We weren’t disappointed. The rhubarb itself was sweet, but still with a wonderful tartness to it, and the topping was incredibly well-executed, crispy and toasted on top but still with a melt-in-the-mouth consistency. My dining companion was particularly enamoured with the fact that it was served with cream as opposed to custard as, in her opinion, cream is “the one true way for crumble accompaniments”.
All in all, a great meal and fantastic value for money. While the burger wasn’t to my friend’s tastes, it’s all a matter of subjectivity, and she’s still keen on a return visit: we’re both keen to try the tapas in particular. I’d like to head back when the pool is open – both for a swim and to check out their poolside menu – and I wish James and the team the best of luck. I’m sure that this place is going to be a success.
Please note: while Bristol Bites has had some involvement in promoting The Lido Kitchen in advance of its opening date, this in no way impacts on the validity of this review.