Coach & Horses

  • Bars and pubs
1 Love It
Covent Garden

This pub has long had one of London’s best locations, right on the edge of Wimbledon Common, well away from traffic. The area feels, and looks, like rural Surrey – which is exactly what it was until the 19th Century.

The old Fox & Grapes was a bit of an underachiever, but now Claude Bosi and his team have taken it over, given it a huge refurb, added three guest rooms and serving smart gastropub food at smart restaurant prices.

A menu based around British pub favourites has been deconstructed, refined, and put back together.

Highlights included a square chunk of roast pork belly. The skin looked dense but was as crisp as fat Pringles, while the meat below was full-flavoured and not too fatty; masterfully cooked. This was accompanied by some rich, dark black pudding on a translucent, golden cider sauce.

Another dish that impressed was a fillet of pollock, also with perfectly crisped skin, but with the flesh of the fit just-cooked past translucence: perfect. The Puy lentils below it were doused with a mustardy sauce, a combination that evoked France, not the British gastropub.

A starter of pork pie was properly made using hot water crust pastry, but the jelly inside – get this – was flavoured with apple. Ooh la la. You know you’re not in a normal gastropub too when a starter salad comprises pretty-as-a-picture warm beetroot, red endive leaves, soft goat cheese, pert salad leaves, walnuts and a honey dressing. Salad cream was neither provided nor required.

The puddings were less of a wow. A dessert of junket – a medieval dessert of ‘set’ milk – was just a little too watery. The cinnamon in the accompanying buttery shortbread illustrated a cultural difference: the American at our table liked it, while the Scot thought the added confection wasn’t strictly necessary – John Knox would not approve.

French-born chef Bosi’s other gaff is Hibiscus in Mayfair, which has two Michelin stars. But his brother Cedric is managing this restaurant-posing-as-gastropub, and on our second visit Claude was dining, not cooking. Service and bookings in the first weeks were still muddled, but the place has a nice vibe, full of appreciative diners who had travelled from afar and arrived by taxi or four-wheel-drive, parked on the Common’s roads nearby. The Fox and Grapes is already a hit, so book well ahead to get a prime dinner slot.

Venue name: Coach & Horses
Address: 42 Wellington Street
Opening hours: Open 11am-11pm Mon-Sun. Meals served 11am-5pm Mon-Sun
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden tube
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