What was once a locals’ local has morphed into an altogether more gentrified outpost, still skirted by the wild tumble of Wimbledon Common. Ramblers and their dogs might hole up at the bar, but they’re a little sidelined by the influx of diners nestled into spruced-up leather upholstery, brogues tip-tapping on the parquet flooring.
The Fox & Grapes was opened under the watchful eye of Claude Bosi (of Hibiscus fame) in early 2011, and has established itself as the go-to pub for south-west Londoners craving Michelin-style sparkle. Claude’s brother, Cedric, heads day-to-day operations, while Julian Ward runs the kitchen.
The menu flashes a certain Brit-infused charm, with its Herefordshire snails, Cornish pollack and Wye Valley asparagus. It’s easy to have a fine meal here, but less so a truly exceptional one, which, at these prices, matters. Guinea fowl breast was robust enough but served with over-salted saffron linguini. Fisherman’s pie was more of a treat, piping hot in the skillet but lacking clout. Steaks are a speciality and tucking into the 28-day-aged ribeye should satisfy ardent carnivores.
In short, this operation knows its market – high-end foodies – but doesn’t always deliver.