Some things never change. But other things – such as wine, cheese, and of course women – just seem to get better with time. The Dog & Fox is one of these. This Wimbledon village stalwart spent years as a grotty neighbourhood boozer, had a radical overhaul from the owners Young's around a decade ago (almost doubling in size), and has had regular spruce-ups ever since, most recently in late 2013. In summer 2014, they even added 17 boutique-style hotel rooms (previously staff accommodation). Enter the public areas and you'll find something for every mood: the main bar (an airy drinking space, where you can eat off the main menu, just without table service); a large, inviting dining room (all gorgeously repro: heritage colours, Louis IV armchairs and the like); and quieter, overspill areas, including the aptly-named ‘Library’ room, with its rows of books.
We ate in ‘The Scullery’, close to the open kitchen, for the no-bookings Sunday lunch, which was as popular with well-heeled locals as a flash sale on Range Rovers. By 12.45pm (they serve from noon), every seat was taken. We could quickly see why: fairly-priced and traditional, it’s all you’d want from a home-cooked meal, but with none of the faff. Two large plates arrived: one with juicy, pink-middled beef (21 day aged West Country sirloin - £14.95); the other with a succulent marinated half-chicken (£13.95). Both included all the trimmings: crispy roasties, thyme-specked root veg, lashings of gravy (no skimping here), and a proper Yorkshire pud as big as a melon. Best of all were the staff – young, beaming, attentive and obliging; other restaurants could learn a lot from them. And being only a short stroll to either the affluent, picture-postcard 'village', or the green spaces of Wimbledon Common (with the tell-tale ‘tang’ of horse manure), this is a taste of country life, but without having to leave a London postcode.
Reviewed by Tania Ballantine