A visit to Wimbledon and the “new” Fox and Grapes

We’ve been going to the Fox and Grapes on the edge of Wimbledon Common for years. It’s always been a great little pub with a good wine list, tasty food and loads of locals and their dogs lying by the fire in the winter (the dogs, that is).

It was taken over by Claude Bossi (from the 2-Michelin-star Hibiscus restaurant) in February 2011 and is managed by his brother Cedric. I’ve been meaning to go back again ever since then. Our friend Eddie’s birthday earlier this week gave us the perfect excuse.

First impressions were quite wow! It looks the same but different, if that makes sense. Decor has been tweaked and it looks more like a restaurant than a pub now, all decorated in lovely, neutral colours.

The menu is very interesting, kind of traditional English pub fare but with a slightly different interpretation. I really liked it.

My first starter (I ended up having two starters and one dish off the bar snack menu) was one of the nicest dishes I’ve had this year. Crushed peas wrapped in a beautifully salty piece of Speck and served with a wonderfully soft poached egg and sweet ┬áleaves. Such a perfect combo of flavours and textures, I’d go back there for this alone.

On the list for my favourite starter of the year
On the list for my favourite starter of the year

The Cornish whitebait came displayed on an arty board, inside a mini frying cage. These have been around for a while now but I still love them. I totally get mini stuff. It was crispy and tasty with that beautiful fishiness that only whitebait has and served with aioli. Quite impressed with the size of the portion, too, it was pretty substantial for a dish listed on the bar snacks section of the menu.

Crispy, fishy whitebait with garlic mayo, the perfect finger food to eat at the bar
Crispy, fishy whitebait with garlic mayo,
the perfect finger food to eat at the bar

Also one of the bar snacks is the Haggis scotch egg, served with piccalilli. (Is piccalilli one of the hardest words to remember the spelling of? May be just me but I always get those lls the wrong way around).

The highly flavoursome coating was lovely and crunchy and when I cut it in half, the egg just oozed out. The picalilli had a real tang to it, the perfect mix with the rich haggis and egg. Turning into a bit of an eggy night for me!

scotch egg
Yummy haggis scotch egg with zesty picalilli, can it get more British?

The menu seems to change regularly, depending on seasonality as they use local ingredients as far as possible. This pork dish which was served with amazing mash and veg had meat so soft and luscious you barely had to chew it.

Beautiful pork with mash and veg, how I love soft food

Other dishes on offer include English Brown ale battered haddock, triple cooked chips (totally yummy) and mushy peas; great burgers and a selection of steaks.

A thoroughly enjoyable night out. The place definitely feels more like a restaurant than a pub now. Having said that, the bar is still central to the layout and there were still locals in there with their dogs which I always love about English pubs. Yes, I am the sad person going up to say hello to all the dogs! Dogs make life better, what can I say?

The Fox and Grapes is at 9 Camps Road, Wimbledon Common. You don’t need to have a dog to go there! Oh, and the service is great, relaxed, efficient and with a lot of charm.

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