Dining Out at Stokes: Late at the Lawn
A familiar venue, but a brand new experience. This month you’d have to be mad not to try Late at the Lawn, where the team who have taken over the asylum are definitely not lunatics!
It was the composer Oscar Levant who once remarked that the line between genius and insanity was a thin one. Historically, The Lawn housed the latter, but now it’s been taken over by the former, and their new evening dining experience is, indeed, a work of pure, undiluted genius.
For those still somehow unfamiliar with one of the most famous names in Lincoln, Stokes Coffee was established in 1892 by Robert William Stokes, great grandfather of the company’s current custodian, Nick Peel.
The Stokes family began life as grocers and Robert capitalised on a trend for good tea and coffee by roasting his own coffee, founding the Coffee Palace, in what is now Marks & Spencer. The retailer wanted a store in the city, and eyed-up Robert’s building with envy, making him an offer that he couldn’t refuse, so Robert moved next door and founded Stokes’ High Bridge Café.
After opening a second premises at The Collection museum in 2011, in 2017 Stokes purchased The Lawn, a Grade II listed Greek revival building, home to Lincoln’s ‘Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases’ from 1921 to 1985, when the consideration given to – and the treatment of – mental health was much more primitive and rather less sympathetic.
The business relocated its coffee roastery to The Lawn in order to satisfy the supply of over 500 cafés and restaurants in Lincolnshire alone, and also opened its own 60-seater café on the site too.
It’s become a go-to daytime destination for coffee, brunch and daytime dining ever since, but has traditionally closed its doors at 4pm… that is, until now. A couple of months ago, with a brilliant team upon which they could capitalise, Stokes created a menu of good quality bistro dishes, adding the availability of cocktails, plus a bit of nice music and low lighting, creating a really nice atmosphere for evening dining.
We’ve tried it. We love it. Lincoln is packed with places to eat, and yet Stokes has managed to create a unique appeal to Late at The Lawn, designing a menu comprising worldwide culinary influences.
The menu states that its main course dishes are small plates, but the jury’s out on that point to me. Portions are as substantial as a main course dish in my opinion, and this is definitely not a tapas format of dining where you’ll mix and match a few dishes. That said if a few diners were ordering different options, there might be some scope for sharing each others’ dishes – as well you might, because each dish presented to us during our photoshoot was delicious, the sort of menu that makes me want to try a little bit of everything.
Currently Late at The Lawn is offered on Friday and Saturday evenings. In the cooler months the restaurant has 54 covers, but that could almost double in the summer as the restaurant’s terrace will be very popular and the menu will suit additional diners outdoors with a nice relaxed feel.
The team say they’re not trying to emulate a fine dining experience but instead create a night-time oasis with atmospheric music, lighting, exciting menus and professionally mixed cocktails.
The cosy, sophisticated setting, handcrafted cocktails and sumptuously designed dishes – created by a team led by former London chef, Rory – are receiving rave reviews, the team says, and we’re happy to underwrite that claim with our own experience.
One of the benefits of having such an established presence in the county is knowing exactly which suppliers will offer the best ingredients, and so Late at the Lawn sources its butchery from Pepperdines, plus veg from Boston, cheese from producers like Market Rasen’s Cote Hill and plum loaf for its cheese board from Modens. Navenby’s Welbournes provides the restaurant’s sourdough bread, and coffee after your meal comes from a very decent local supplier too…
Dining spaces are divided into the main restaurant and its Fish Section alcove, which is quite smart and helps to break up the space. To the back of the premises, the Viewing Gallery as its name suggests gives a good view into the roastery during daylight hours, although not in the evening.
Parquet flooring, Cole & Son’s Teatro wallpaper and well-considered lighting in this room all create a really sophisticated, intimate and comfortable space. Upstairs, too, there’s The Blue Room, a really nice function suite which also hosts live events and weddings. At the front of house, Rizvaan Ashfaq was great and led a very lovely and attentive team.
There’s a lot of competition in Uphill Lincoln for Friday and Saturday night diners or those seeking a cocktail. The Lawn, too, is a short walk from Bailgate and Steep Hill. As such Late at The Lawn has to offer something unique and good in order to thrive. Is it unique? Yes. A great menu, small dishes concept, lots of personality and warmth and charm. Is it good? Oh heck yes. Each of our dishes was delicious, nicely presented and generous in proportion.
A couple of decades ago you’d have to be deemed insane to be taken off to The Lawn… but today, you’d be mad not to try it!
On the Menu
Let’s Get Started
Assorted local artisan breads with homemade compound butters, olive oil and balsamic glaze, £4.
Chickpea hummus & grilled pitta bread slices, £4.50.
The Main Event: Small Plates
Seared seabass fillet on baby spinach, confit onions & a saffron cream sauce, £11.
Beef teriyaki, served in a baby gem lettuce cup with pickled vegetables & coriander, £11.50.
Chicken katsu, with panko bread crumbed chicken strips, served with sticky jasmine rice, £7.50.
Trio of sliders; mini beef, chicken & lamb burgers, £12.
Wild mushroom arancini balls with basil mayonnaise, £6.50.
Pan fried spinach and potato gnocchi, baby spinach, basil tomatoes, a parmesan crisp, £7.50.
And To Finish
Treacle, lemon and ginger tart, served with lemon clotted cream, £6.
Stokes coffee panna cotta with khalua drizzle, £5.
Cheese board a selection of local cheeses, served with plum bread and apple chutney, £8.50.
Dining Out: Late at the Lawn, by Stokes, Lincoln
The Pitch: “A new concept sees the popular Lawn Café transformed every Friday and Saturday evening into a night-time oasis with incredible music, lighting, exciting menus and professionally mixed cocktails…”
Dining Times: Late at the Lawn Friday/Saturday evenings, 6pm-late. Café seven days from 8.30am (9pm Sunday) to 4pm.
Late at the Lawn, Union Road, Lincoln LN1 3BU. Call 01522 523 548 or see www.stokescoffee.com