Monday, November 05, 2007

The Dell - come for the views

It was a glorious, sunny Sunday, just the kind for lazing outdoors with the papers by the lake in autumn-golden Hyde Park. The Dell cafe is obviously aimed at the captive tourist market, but if you choose carefully, it ain't half bad. There are some swirly flours on one of the walls, but overall it feels like a canteen, complete with plastic chairs and brown food trays. The attraction however is clearly not the decor but the park -- visible through floor to ceiling windows as well as from the large terrace outside. Some of the food seems like a rip off: a small plastic cup of pumpkin soup and hunk of baguette for £4.50, uninspired-looking sandwiches for £4.15, a small tub of Greek salad (which most people seemed to be buying as a side dish) for £4... But the hot counter offers better value. For £7 you could get a tasty-looking salmon fillet served with piled of rice and ratatouille. Not cheap sure, but not too bad for a fully-fledged restaurant main course. I chose the goat's cheese tart (£4.50) -- a large square of puff pastry, topped with roast peppers and courgettes and crowned with a white circle of creamy cheesiness. With hindsight, I should have tried to stop the dinner lady from pouring two ladles of oil over the salad leaves, but it was still a very nice lunch. There's a good selection of beverages as well, from various modern soft drink concoctions for £2-ish (green tea and pomegranate anyone?), to wines and even bottles of London Pride (£3.50). And not a penguin bar in sight. To me, it's these tourist hot spot eateries which illustrate just how far England's culinary scene has come in the last 10, or even 5 years. Sure, it's not a destination venue. But, given the stunning destination, the venue has all the ingredients you need to while away a pleasant afternoon.

PS Hyde Park is clearly a place which attracts foodies -- they display a board of sponsors' names (who knew you could sponsor a park?), which includes a champagne house and a very posh organic supermarket.

The Dell, Hyde Park, Eastern side of Serpentine lake, W2 2UH;; Tube: Hyde Park Corner

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