If I have friends in town I often like to take them to Hyde Park. In summer you can chill out on the iconic stripey deck chairs by the Serpentine and in winter there is still lots to see. My favourite spots include the statue of Peter Pan donated by JM Barrey, the bowls club tucked away in the back corner and checking the ever changing scenes in the Anish Kapoor sculptures which are scattered around at the moment. Every walk in the park, particularly in the current icy conditions, deserves a reward and just for that purpose is The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen which sits smack, bang in the middle of the park.
Muffins and slice on display
Once a fairly uninspiring cafeteria, Benugo’s took over last year and revamped the modernist building. Things have been made more homely with a gin truck parked outside (mental note to return in summer for that), trays of overflowing muffins next to the coffee bar and shelves laden with tins of Italian tomatoes. Just to complete the scene the staff even wear wellies. It looks a little like you are in a scene from Country Life magazine right in the middle of London.
The lido at the frozen Serpentine
Unfortunately the move from cafeteria to restaurant and bar has not translated beyond the aesthetics. Ordering food and drinks is only possible through an endless queuing process. Given I visited with my friends Clare and Jono on a quiet winter day, I hate to think how long it would take to get served in the height of summer.
Fish finger butty
The menu choices were written up on a blackboard above the counter and included some good wintery options like a salt beef sandwich, duck leg with red cabbage and a lengthy list of pizzas taking advantage of the wood fired oven in the kitchen. The pumpkin and spinach bake (£8.50) had a lovely sweet flavour from the slow roasted pumpkin and was enlivened with a scattering of sage and parmesan which added a crisp topping. However the serving size was a little measly. The fish finger butty (£6.50) was a better option. Crunchy fish fingers were wedged between brown bread and topped with a creamy mayonnaise. Perfect for adults who still wish they were kids.
Pumpkin and spinach bake
The coffee was not so great, watery and served in takeaway cups even though we were eating in. There was no joy from the blueberry muffin either which was dense rather than light and fluffy. It seems the move from cafeteria to restaurant was not quite as smooth as it first appeared.
The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen from the lake
Details: The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park W2 2UH (Ph 020 7706 8114) Tube: Knightsbridge
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my reviews of other lunchtime options – The Table and Jak’s Cafe in Kensington.