Introducing SWIM: A brand new cafe bar located smack-bang on the Lyme Regis seafront.
Words & Photography by Gabriella Dyson
When I call to mind the busy seaside town of Lyme Regis, I tend to think of holidaymakers, ice-cream cones and fossil-themed gift shops. So, when I started seeing stylised photographs from a new cafe bar called SWIM, I was curious to find out more about the towns latest foodie destination.
From their social media posts alone, I could tell that SWIM was an archetypal hipster* eatery. Alongside their strong graphic design game and photography by the talented Matt Austin, the cafe space itself looks like it’s been designed by a recent art school graduate. Indeed, it even meets the necessary quota of hanging plants and macrame wall hangings to bring trendy types from far and wide. Its prime position on the Lyme Regis seafront ensures a steady flow of walk-ins and with a menu that offers everything from breakfast through to dinner, there’s pretty much guaranteed to be something on offer that takes your fancy.
SWIM describe themselves as ‘a vibrant, busy place with an energetic feel’. By their own admission, this vibe is partially due to the fact that they only allow 50% of the restaurant to be booked in advance. Knowing this information we bravely – or foolishly – opted to visit on a busy Saturday, which also happened to be one of the warmest days of the year. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the staff were able to fit us into a booth table and were extremely welcoming and helpful in the process.
Like all trendy new places, orders are made at the bar and you can expect a large selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails. We opted for a couple of glasses of cider before taking a browse of the lunchtime menu. Dishes range from ‘light bites’, such as tempura vegetables or Tokyo ribs, to healthy ‘Whole Bowls’ and classic burgers. In terms of price, we felt that SWIM was fairly affordable, with many options coming in at under £10. With most dishes, there’s the option to add extras or upgrade for a couple of pounds, while fries and/or salad come as standard with many of their lunchtime offerings.
My friend ordered a Cheese Burger after spying a couple coming out of the kitchens. SWIM burgers are priced at £9-£11 and are served on sesame seeded brioche buns with skinny fries. You have the option to double it for £3 and add smoked bacon or upgrade to truffle fries for an extra £1.50, which we did. Both of us agreed that the burger was rather delicious and well cooked (coming medium rare). We also agreed that truffle fries are infinitely better than standard fries and we would most likely order a burger from SWIM again.
I ordered a toasted sandwich with Japanese pork belly rashers, kimchi, English gruyère, and miso spicy mayo. This dish sounded right up my alley and I thought it would be just enough for a Saturday lunchtime. However, eagle-eyed readers will no doubt look at the photo below and notice that what I received was not a toasted sandwich. When our food came to the table, I was presented with a rather impressive looking stack of belly pork in a rich spicy broth, complete with shards of crackling. While this looked delicious, it certainly wasn’t what I’d asked for. Somewhere along the lines, there must have been a miscommunication between our order (which we actually pointed out on the menu) and the kitchen.
Sadly, this dish was just too heavy for a summer lunchtime (which was exactly why I didn’t order it!). Both the belly pork and the broth were lovely and flavoursome, but were also extremely spicy. Meanwhile, I’m sorry to report that the crackling was frankly inedible, as it was so hard that it almost broke my tooth! I will say, the staff politely asked if I would like them to replace the dish with what I had ordered, but I hate to see food wasted for the sake of it and I said I was happy to eat it anyway. Disappointing.
Sink or SWIM?
Overall, I think SWIM is ideal for a burger and a beer with friends during the summer months. Not only is the cafe practically on the beach, but the young staff are helpful and even on the busiest of days you’ll probably manage to blag a seat. I don’t want to dwell on the fact they gave me the wrong order – as these things happen and they did offer to change it – but it did make me wonder what the place would be like on an evening. I get the impression that SWIM is strongest on their breakfast and lunchtime offerings. That being said, I’d love to take a seat outside on their terrace on a summers evening and be able to watch the sunset from their enviable location.
Have you visited SWIM in Lyme Regis? Let us know your thoughts below!