It's all too easy to stack up a fat bill at brunch. Soon as jazzy coffee, London weighting and (medicinal) Bloody Mary is involved, prices have a tendency to rocket. Not here though; I can think of no jollier place to spend a lazy, late morning than whiling away the hours at Brockwell Lido cafe.
Laden with kids? You won't be alone, and the noise of whinnying children is somehow drowned out by the eternal grind of the coffee machine. Looking slightly ramshackle after a heart-stoppingly cold dip in the lido? Not to worry, as plenty of folk are equally fresh of face, and all the more vibrant for it. There may be the odd brunch fuelled by fizz here and there, but it was our experience that everyone's too busy feeling at home as they stuff their chops to care about seeing or being seen.
Indoors and outdoors are different beasts entirely. Saturday morning was chaotic and flirted with anarchy in the confines of the cafe itself – brilliant if you're with children (or ‘over-sharing’, still-tiddled friends) that border on the feral. But al fresco? Oh, what sweet sanctuary! So it was nippy as hell (4 degrees in the water,) but you can't underestimate the calming qualities of that peaceful, still backdrop: halcyon blue water parted by the occasional bobbing head, and that's pretty much all that clouded our view. Looking to the horizon, on one side was a wall of flats and on the other, a vast expanse of unbroken sky rarely glimpsed in the city.
Less than 12 quid bagged us posh (but not insubstantial) eggs with a glass of bubbles or a mimosa. Lush it was too. But take heed of the menu: eggs benedict's ‘the one with the ham’, silly… As someone that can't stick fish in the waking hours, i stand corrected for mugging myself by ordering the peaty ol' royale. How lovely that, despite my casual mistake, our waitress was clearly open to a switch. I suspect a lot of people need to join me for a quick lesson in egg etiquette. (Simple solution: read the menu, peops: it's laid out for us dunces). On a sweeter note, pancakes were generous and soused with syrup, soft blueberry bursts and a crisp, smoked bacon topping. Wondrous new levels of moreishness.
I loved our meal here. In less than an hour, the lapping water, fresh air and genuinely good food had me feeling renewed. I'm sure it dissolves into a bun fight when the weather turns (in which case catch it while you can, on a mean-spirited winter's day) but I'm more than happy to give it a bash. And if the illusion of a restorative brunch is shattered, I'll simply slide my mealtimes to accommodate a dinner here with a garnish of the odd splish and splosh.