All eyes may be on Wimbledon for those two weeks of the year when the world’s tennis stars come to town but there is plenty more to SW19, including some fantastic food and drink.
Restaurant, European, $$$
Holy Smoke is a small place, only around 20 seats or so, making it more suited to a cosy dinner for two rather than a group outing. You really are made to feel welcome though, and great service is matched by great food. Smoke plays a big part in the menu, which features everything from tequila-flamed king prawns to honey and five-spice confit pork belly with sweet potato mash, and these flavours are complemented by an interesting wine list and strong whisky selection.
The White Onion
Restaurant, French, $$$
From the same team behind The French Table in Surbiton, The White Onion brings contemporary French food to Wimbledon. The kitchen makes use of quality British produce though, using the likes of Brixham scallops (served with cauliflower and curried black pearl purée), Cornish cod (with crab ravioli and lemon beurre blanc) and West Country lamb (with apricots, parmesan mash and dukkah). The wine list isn’t exclusively French either, with a good number of options from across the world available by the glass and carafe.
The Ivy Café
Restaurant, European, British, $$$
Just like its sister cafés in Marylebone, St John’s Wood and Richmond, The Ivy Café in Wimbledon has all-day dining covered and in very stylish surrounds – tiled floors, art-covered walls, lots of gold detailing and a lovely terrace too. You can get eggs in the morning, sandwiches at lunch, cream tea in the afternoon and everything from tuna carpaccio to the classic shepherd’s pie all other hours of the day, and they keep plenty of tables for walk-ins.
Maison St Cassien
Cafe, Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, $$$
This independent little café-restaurant really stands out among the chain places thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and simple, tasty Mediterranean and Lebanese food. Its wraps, filled with falafel, lamb and chicken shawarma and spicy sausages, are very popular as are its meat and veg platters, which come with tabbouleh, vine leaves, spicy potatoes, Lebanese bread. The seats out front are perfect for people-watching over a leisurely lunch.
Light on the Common
Restaurant, European, $$$
Thanks to its glass-roofed conservatory, Light on the Common really is a light and airy restaurant. The kitchen is committed to using seasonal ingredients and treating them simply, so the menu features rustic dishes such as confit duck leg with new season’s garlic mash and savoy cabbage, and baked harissa salmon with watercress tabbouleh and tahini sauté potatoes, plus daily specials up on a chalkboard. Its sister restaurant, The Lighthouse, is just outside Wimbledon Village and offers a smarter take on the same concept.
Bistro du Vin
Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, French, $$$
Bistro du Vin is the in-house restaurant at Hotel du Vin, which was formerly known as Cannizaro House. The 19th century property is set in the beautiful grounds of Cannizaro Park and you certainly feel a sense of tranquility when you’re there. There’s a strong French influence on the Bistro du Vin menu, with dishes including butter-poached cod and Lyonnaise potatoes, Limousin beef carpaccio and roast Normandy poussin with black pudding hash. Their Sunday lunch also features a French market table loaded with seafood, charcuterie, pâtés, salads and breads.
The Fox & Grapes
Gastropub, Restaurant with Rooms, British, $$$
A pub since 1787, The Fox & Grapes was renovated by the Jolly Fine Pub Group in 2011 and has since become a real favourite among Wimbledon locals. The food offering, overseen by chef director Paul Merrett, is predominantly modern British – Devonshire crab on toasted sourdough, corn-fed chicken with wild mushrooms and green beans, sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce – with a few plates drawing influence from further afield. They even have three rooms should you want to turn your meal into an overnight stay.