Lido Spa and Restaurant, Bristol: restaurant review
Try Basque-style fish stew, North African tagines, and wine that tastes like strawberries and cream at this north-west Bristol oasis
Looking for restaurants in Bristol? Read our review of Mediterranean-inspired Lido Spa & Restaurant in Clifton, and check out our guide for Bristol’s best restaurants here.
Lido Spa & Restaurant in a nutshell
Hidden in Clifton’s residential backstreets, this glass-fronted restaurant and bar lines an open-air pool, sauna and hot tub (there’s a spa, too). The kitchen, complete with wood-fired oven, looks out over the water and the menu takes a Mediterranean approach using quality ingredients, cooked simply and beautifully.
Former barrister and MasterChef 2008 winner James Nathan took over the reins from Freddy Bird in early 2019, and has the likes of The Bath Priory and Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow on his CV.
What's the vibe?
Fresh from a relaxed pool dip, we head up to the restaurant on the first floor where the pool’s viewing gallery once was (this is one of the UK’s oldest lidos, having first opened in 1849 then relaunched in its current incarnation in 2008). Tall windows in the glass wall beside us are swung open onto the warm evening air, and families, friends and dates gather at the cosy candle-lit tables around us.
What's the food like at Lido Spa & Restaurant?
Gorgeously unpretentious, James’ new menu will feel familiar to long-time fans of the Lido. Mediterranean, fresh and holiday flavours abound – expect the likes of peach, tomato, almond, goat’s curd, mint and basil salad, and mackerel with pine nut and raisin pilaf, with spinach and herb yogurt. We eagerly start with the Basque-style fish stew, with cod, monkfish, mussels and prawns. Balanced against the tender fish, the rich tomatoey broth begs to be mopped up with sourdough wedges (of which there are plenty). North African spiced tagine balances flavours neatly, too, with acidity from pickled red onions, earthy cumin and vegetables, sharp pomegranate seeds and sweet dried apricots.
And the drinks?
Wine of the day, Château Berne Esprit Rosé 2018, turns out to be a light rosé from the south of France, with delicate notes of strawberry and cream. The wine list is extensive and handily demarcated: work your way through full-bodied reds, aromatic whites and more.
The wood-roasted scallops are an essential order. Doused in garlic butter and herbs, a twist of lemon cuts through the heavenly, velvety texture.
Lido Bristol, Oakfield Place, Bristol, BS8 2BJ
Words by Rosie Smith