I’ve never liked booking restaurants weeks ahead, and appreciate good food in informal surroundings. Recently we were looking for somewhere dog friendly to go and drink a glass of bubbly to celebrate our elder son’s last day at college. We plumped for The Fox and Grapes; nestled in a corner of Wimbledon Common, on the edge of a golf course it used to be very much a local dog walkers muddy wellies pub. Now it has been transformed into a lovely space, attractive with calm Farrow and Ball colours and well placed seating. When we arrived it was early evening and there were quite a few families with young children enjoying a meal. This could be because they serve a daily early bird special which seems good value. No one looked shocked or surprised when the three of us entered with the dog in tow and we were quickly found a table. Once settled we were immediately served with a bottle of Billecart Salmon, NV @ £55 and a pint of beer. Dog sat quietly under the table while we enjoyed the food. I couldn’t resist the wild garlic soup, as my hunt for wild garlic had proved fruitless. This was served with anchovy fritters, which I was keen to try. Although it was a nice dish the fritters didn’t quite hit the tangy saltiness I had hoped for. Husband’s dish of pickled mackerel was very pretty and hit the spot. We are meant to be watching our weight, so I opted for another starter; razor clams with chorizo. This came with fresh peas and a frothy sauce. Not only was it very good but quite plentiful. My husband was very pleased with his main of pan fried John Dory with beetroot which was perfectly cooked and very tasty. As father and son chatted away about the joys of American wrestling, the dog and I had a perfect excuse to slip away for a turn on the common. Luckily it was a rare sunny evening and at 9pm it was light with plenty of people around. This included the usual gaggle of teenagers, some keen runners, and a couple of youngsters practising their golf. Chester, the dog, and I met up with a friendly young couple with a lively young Hungarian Ridgeback. Whilst the dogs played, we chatted and I urged them to visit the Fox and Grapes. It is the kind of place you can pop into for a drink, and they have some interesting bar snacks, such as the wild boar scotch egg which we saw being devoured on the next table. We went midweek, so if you are coming from far away it would probably be advisable to book.
All in all, it was a perfect evening with lovely food, very helpful and friendly service and a relaxed time with No 1 son. We felt so welcomed that we will be back, perhaps not on a diet, so we can sample more of the food and wine list….