Fox and Grapes

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It’s Wimbledon time and all eyes are peeled to SW19.  If you haven’t got tickets to the tennis or even if you have and just need somewhere to head afterwards, The Fox and Grapes is a good place to soak up the tennis atmosphere.  The gastro pub is the brain child of Hibiscus’ chef and owner Claude Bosi, but takes a very different approach to the Michelin star restaurant.  The Fox and Grapes is the sort of pub people bring their golf clubs into straight from the common or their dog they have just been walking.  It’s also not too posh to project the tennis against one wall and have the whole pub standing and applauding when Murray wins a match.

A huge scotch egg

All of these features are things I very much approve of so I was ready to like the Fox and Grapes but sadly the food disappointed.  The menu was fairly predictable, mainly standard pub dishes with little to indicate Bosi’s influence apart from the inclusion of steaks cooked on a Josper grill and some more interesting  bar snacks.  Of these, scotch eggs (£3.50 each) were enormous and had been soft boiled releasing a bright yellow yolk when sliced.  My only complaint was the sausage surrounding the egg which was made from wild boar and proved to be a little dry and under seasoned.

Watching the tennis at the Fox and Grapes

Uncharacteristically MTV boyfriend ordered the wild mushroom pasta rather than a steak.  I think he came to regret this decision as although the pappardelle was cooked perfectly al dente, the flavour combination of wild mushrooms with spinach, goats cheese and walnuts was a little bland.

Wild mushroom papardelle

The roasted chicken (£15) followed in the same vein as the scotch egg (or was it the chicken before the egg?) and was a super sized portion in the form of a whole half chicken per serve.  It had a great spicy rub on it which had blackened and crisped the skin in contrast to the creamy, tender meat.  Unfortunately the sheer size of the chicken meant that I felt some of it was undercooked which is never great in a chicken.

Half roast chicken with cos lettuce and anchovy salad

Despite the prices at the Fox and Grapes edging into restaurant territory, service was distinctly pubbish.  The wine list promised a focus on biodynamic and natural wines and the list helpfully read: “Wine service in general can be a bit elaborate. Not here. We offer you a taste to check the condition.  Pour a small glass for each person and then we leave you to it.”  All good in theory but in practice when we asked for a wine recommendation our waiter said “I don’t drink wine sorry so I can’t help.”  He then came back after consulting with another waiter and told me if I wanted to I could taste any of the wines which was generous but not exactly helpful without working my way through the whole wine list.

Fox and Grapes is the sort of place you can bring a muddy dog in still.  Isn’t this one adorable? 

If you live in the area or are in that neck of the woods for the tennis, the Fox and Grapes is worth a visit but it is certainly not the sort of place you cross town for.  Given the involvement of Bosi I was expecting more ‘astro’ pub than gastro pub but I felt the menu was fairly standard pub fare and failed to deliver in execution.

Essentials
Details: Fox and Grapes, 9 Camp Road, Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon SW19 4UN (Ph: 020 8619 1300) Tube: Wimbledon
Damage: Pricey
5/10

Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my reviews of some other London gastro pubs, The Punch Bowl and the Fox & Anchor.Fox & Grapes on Urbanspoon

4 comments

  1. The roast chicken skin looks awesome but a shame that some of it was somewhat undercooked? A very cilivised way to watch the tennis, I must say!

  2. I wasn’t overly impressed either. As you point out, you expect a bit more when a chef of Bosi’s renown is involved.

    Shame about your Scotch egg as I recall that being the highlight when I went.

  3. My wife’s Burger had blue cheese in it, which was so strong all you could taste was blue cheese. It was also to soggy to hold. My steak was burnt and my béarnaise tasted of under seasoned egg yolk.

    That said desserts were great and they serve a nice pint. But I cant help but think Bosi gives his ex sous chef more credit than he’s due. Especially when locals tell me it was a well loved pub for food before they took over.

  4. Helen – Yes I loved the seasoning on it but as you say a shame it was undercooked

    Mr Noodles – Yes I read your review and think we had a similar experience

    Neil – Interesting that you had similarly mixed feelings as well. Overall a bit of a disappointment.

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