What’s to love about South Front District’s newest coffee and bake shop? Literally, everything.
For those who are well-versed in Wilmington’s dining scene, the name Lydia Clopton probably rings some bells. The pastry chef pulls the sweet strings behind Pinpoint Restaurant’s dessert list, and in addition, whips up house breads, crackers, and more at the Low Country downtown staple.
When I learned she was dipping her toe into the sea of specialty coffee and breakfast treats, I was on the edge of my seat. There was no question she would shine in the limelight—and Lydia is the type of person you can’t help but root for.
So, long story short: On the corner of Greenfield and 3rd streets now sits Love, Lydia—cozied into a refurbished craftsman-style home. Thanks to other hot spots like Benny’s Big Time and Second Glass, the neighborhood is slowly becoming a foot-traffic destination. It’s almost constant Lydia’s brunchtime crowd spills out onto the wrap-around porch. From headphone-clad hipsters sipping soy lattes to couples fighting over the last bite of a gluten-free brownie, Lydia’s has created a charming vibe that makes every diner feel right at home.
I first tried out the ciabatta, a long spongy loaf I couldn’t keep my eyes off of. So I took it home and had my way with it. Each crispy bite was permeated with fruity olive oil and showered in nutty sesame seeds.
I quickly fell in love with the housemade coffee syrups—from lavender to winter spice and beyond—and I was impressed by Lydia’s roaster of choice (Georgia-based 1,000 Faces). It was a nice change of pace from the Counter Culture lineup on most menus. It was hard to deny the Vietnamese iced coffee—and luckily my husband didn’t, so I got to taste it. It was gorgeously dark with a drippy pour of sweetened condensed milk. In and attempt to try a few different beverages, we also landed on the vanilla bean latte and, my favorite, a dirty Chai (a chai latte spiked with shots of espresso). We decided to hold nothing back, and opted for whole milk.
The vanilla bean was slightly sweet and woody and gave the creamy milk and espresso a delicate perfume. The dirty Chai was likely made with, not surprisingly, a homemade spice blend. Instead of cloyingly sweet hits of sugar, each sip was brimming with spicy ginger and earthy cloves. Also, both were finished with an artistic foam doodle (#nailedit).
To pair with our cozy caffeinated beverages, we decided to split a sticky bun that was staring at us through the glass. Being someone who lacks a sweet tooth, one look at the swirly, sugary pastry, and I assured my husband I was only going to have several bites. I was wrong. It was a seriously sticky, brazenly buttery roll, topped with gooey pecans. Even the feathery insides were slightly sticky, and once we got to the pastry’s core, we were both eyeing it (and each other) to see who would make the bold move.
On another sweet note, the coffee cake was a cinnamony, crumbly masterpiece. It had a glossy caramel layer sandwiched in the middle and begged to be dunked into a latte. I obliged.
I was wildly tempted by everything in the pastry case, but knew I needed to save room. The savory side of a menu is my happy place, after all. It doesn’t get more comforting than a BEC, and I guessed Lydia’s spin would be a special treat.
Her signature biscuits were pleasantly airy, but I owe the sandwich’s lightness to the egg soufflé. My husband is a hardcore fried egg eater, so he was confused when he peeled back his top biscuit half to reveal a square. Listen up, yolk-lovers, don’t knock the soufflé until consuming one. By preparing the eggs in this manner, everything on the sandwich stays intact and each bite astounds with its moisture. Bacon? Yas. Smoked Gouda? Yas. The biscuit is simplistic morning-time bliss and can cure a hangover, but won’t make you want to curl up and die. Not an easy task.
I had become a sucker for the BEC, until a knowledgeable foodie friend told me his consistent Lydia’s order were the tacos. He had me at homemade hot sauce, and you guys! Holy homemade, fresh, peppery hot sauce! Also, at around $10, three tacos and a handful of crispy fried potatoes is a steal. Prepare once again for the egg soufflé, but, remember, the shape serves a greater purpose by keeping your pants clean. On top of the lightly charred flour tortillas (street taco size): a citrusy pico packed with jalapeños and zippy red onions. It was an excellent counterpart to the spicy, meaty chorizo crumbles and sharp white cheddar.
I haven’t taken the lunch items for a test run yet, but if they’re anything like Lydia’s thoughtful breakfast lineup and hand-crafted coffees, I’m all already in love.