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Fox and Grapes


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When a very highly rated Michelin two star chef opens a new place, a frission of excitement runs through the foodie world. Claude Bosi and his brother Cedric have joined forces (again) and installed talented former sous chef at Hibiscus Patrick Leano to head up the kitchen.

This start up follows in the footsteps of other Michelin starred chefs, namely Brett graham who along with others opened the excellent and now Michelin starred gastropub Harwood Arms

Phil Howard branched out also by opening the super Kitchen W8. An instant hit and another Michelin star. Now I'm not privvy to any inside info but would hazard a guess this place is not just going to be just some ordinary pub.

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The pub is split into two rooms divided by a welcoming central bar. The room above houses the partially open kitchen (to the left) and is the larger of the two.

Down a step leads into the other more cosy dining area which splits into two rooms.

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Annoyingly no mention is made on the website as to a reduced lunchtime menu. Only one is listed. As I had already chosen to eat the Herefordshire snail lasagne, the Crispy Plantation Pork, and would try to persuade my wife to try the signiture, Label Anglaise chicken Kiev I was a bit despondant.

We skipped wine and kicked off with a couple of halves of award winning beer.

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Tap water was offered, but no bread and butter, it was not on this menu, however it is chargeable (£2.50). No worries we did not want to fill up on bread, we wanted to try the Pork Scratchings (£1.95) This is a reduced price from the website menu, as is one of the other bar snacks, the scotch egg (£2.75)

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Needless to say these were totally delish, but so they should be as even I could make a decent job

of these. Perhaps on reflection though, not this good though.

Fortunately there was enough on the menu to keep our interest. What caught my eye was the Guinea Fowl Rillette on sourdough toast (£7.50) As we tried a similar, except it was Pork rillette at Brawn a couple of weeks ago, it sort of made sense to compare the two.

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This version was equally as tasty, perhaps to some a meal in itself. About the same money as at Brawn too, except I preffered the bread at Brawn. I must make mention of the mixed baby leaf salad. Initially i thought it not to be dressed, but it was and it was wonderful, nicely sweet with some unidentified leaves. I should have asked what was in there.

The other starter was not my wifes initial choice, but I suggested she try it as I thought it right up her street. Salad of Warm Beetroot, Endive, Blood Orange, Goats cheese (£7.50)

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There was nothing warm about this dish. It was stone cold. It was declared as ok. My enquiry about the blood orange, caused the retort. "What blood orange".

Next, on to the mains, and this is where the fun starts.

It was not obvious that there was a problem in the kitchen at this stage. An seemed like an eternity went by, and still no food. I asked twice and then decided to time how long the dishes would arrive.

We nearly walked on a few occasions, our patience exausted, especially when witnessing food, that we thought was ours, arrive at other tables. Clearly we were not on our own, another customer remonstrated with our server, directly next to our table, as to the wait that they had endured.

Finally after a furthar twenty five minutes, the food arrived,

But was it worth the wait?

Sadly the 8oz Us Prime Angus Bavette steak (£14) was not my dish. It was simple, but brilliant, at least the steak was. As tasty a piece of steak, you will perhaps eat. And of course a bargain price. A nice char on the outside, tender enough, with not too much of a chew, dead right really. Very good bearnaise sauce, decent chips, which should, but had not been seasoned.

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When our waitress asked how I would like the Patricks Burger (£12.50) cooked, I replied "exactly as chef would want it too".

Except it was not. Far from it in fact, I'm sorry to report.

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As soon as it hit the table and even without cutting into it I realised all was not right.

The patty had been man handled, all the air had been pushed out of it, resulting in an over dense lump. It was also overcooked, by a margin. Nothing wrong with the flavour of the beef, that was fine. The accompanying tomato relish and blue cheese dressing was spot on. The skinny fries were just ok, but again unseasoned. Slipshod I'm afraid to say, simply slipshod.

We were full by now, but I would have attempted to taste one of the signiture desserts, but I had lost the will to persevere, especially when contemplating another long wait.

I asked for the bill fully intent to have the service charge removed. However they had left the service charge in place but very kindly removed both starters as a gesture of goodwill. So no argument of course, just a bit of gratitude to put right an unfortunate experience.

I should point out that I enquired if the service charge went to the staff.

The reply was " only fifty per cent"

As we walked out I wanted a picture of the chefs in action, they were out of view. I asked to speak to Patrick Leano, a really sweet guy, who was mortified that things had not gone as planned.

He confided that indeed there were problems in the kitchen, at least one key member of his staff was not on duty, he had to draft friends in for cover. They had been especially busy doing ninety covers since twelve with a peak time of one o clock breaking the kitchens back.

He asked me not to take his photograph

He implored me to give the place another try, asking me to phone him in advance, so that we could sample his food at its best.

I may just take him up on that offer.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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You'd hope Bosi would get this right quickly. His previous attempt at the pub landlord, at the Bell, was a cracker. It was a "proper" pub doing "proper", if upscale, pub food.

Wimbledon's a bit of a schlep for you for a pub lunch, David?

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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When our waitress asked how I would like the Patricks Burger (£12.50) cooked, I replied "exactly as chef would want it too".

Except it was not. Far from it in fact, I'm sorry to report.

Are you sure that isn't "exactly as the chef would want it too"?

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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"He implored me to give the place another try, asking me to phone him in advance, so that we could sample his food at its best."

Blimey! Loosely translated as "Let me know you're coming and I'll cook it properly otherwise you'll get the same crap as everyone else."

Oh to be in such a privileged position. I can't believe you made that public.

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You'd hope Bosi would get this right quickly. His previous attempt at the pub landlord, at the Bell, was a cracker. It was a "proper" pub doing "proper", if upscale, pub food.

Wimbledon's a bit of a schlep for you for a pub lunch, David?

It is more than a bit John, and no way worth a single meal,(except Dinner by Heston of course) but we made a weekend of it, popping into London the next day for another meal. Just as we normally do.

Shame it did not live up to expectation, still the Bavette was great.

Seems this report has made some people restless :wink::laugh:

Still all comments are appreciated :biggrin:

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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"He implored me to give the place another try, asking me to phone him in advance, so that we could sample his food at its best."

Blimey! Loosely translated as "Let me know you're coming and I'll cook it properly otherwise you'll get the same crap as everyone else."

Oh to be in such a privileged position. I can't believe you made that public.

I do wish that you would take time to read my review correctly.

Its offensive to the chef to infer that I thought his food to be "crap" (your unfortunate words, not mine)

Lets run through this slowly, so you can derive a clearer picture of what I said.

Pork scratchings....................... Delish

Rillette................................As tasty as Brawn

Salad..................................OK

Bavette................................Brilliant

Burger.................................Overcooked, for me, but for some. Perfectly acceptable.

Hardly "crap" then.

My main issue was the extremely slow service, not so much the food. And of course this is a very important part of the overall dining experience.

"Oh to be in such a privileged position"

Let me again explain.

The chef asked me about the meal.

Now where I come from, we call a spade a spade, and was frank with him.

My main complaint was about the time it took for the food to hit the table, and of course it was evidently due to staff shortage. No ones fault really.

He asked me if I was local. I told him that I had travelled nearly half the length of the country to eat his food.

Quite naturally he was most disappointed that we had been let down so badly after travelling so far to eat at the restaurant, and wanted another chance to put things right.

Of course there is nothing wrong in that approach. Its perfectly normal. Anyone with a sense of decency would have made the same offer.

To sum up.

The food was not "crap".

We were treated as ordinary customers on the day

The chef was flattered that we had travelled so far to try his food, but highly embarrassed we had been disappointed to such an extent, that he offered to try to make amends.

Whats wrong with that?

Nothing of course.

Its easy being an armchair critic, when in the real world a huge amount of time, effort and money is spent, trying to give a true and accurate picture of what is on offer out there.

I am really looking forward to one of your reviews now.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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  • 4 weeks later...

Tracy Macleod in The Independent gives a rather lukewarm review.

It would appear it is perhaps a victim of of its own success, being rather busy and overstretched resulting in service which is still slow.

Expectation levels no doubt soar when Claude Bosi's name is mentioned, although I'm certain that I have read somewhere he has no ambitions other than to operate a very good British pub serving rather good British food.

I'm slightly bemused by the comment "all tips go to the staff". That is out of kilter with what one of the wait staff told me.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I'm bemused by the comment, '... weirdly unappetising; I give you broccoli and blue cheese soup, or vegetable pie and spring greens.'

It may not be to her personal tastes, but why would you call a classic pairing of broccoli and blue cheese unappetising? Or a veg pie for that matter. I may scoff with the usual derision at the mention of veggies, but they still need to be catered for, especially in a gastro-pub where broad, accommodating strokes are required.

This is not the only review from Tracey that leaves me wondering if she has any food qualification beyond being a journalist who'd been handed the job straight from the editors desk.

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Thinking of going here David would you say it was child friendly?

Most certainly child friendly, although we were there on a Saturday lunch. Not entirely sure in the evenings.

I'm fairly sure the table to our right had parents, chidren, and grandchildren dining, and if you look at the picture above a father and child are in the corner of the shot.

What was very evident is that its also dog friendly. Three or four very well behaved ones were content to loll about having no doubt run themselves ragged on Wimbledon Common.

This is of course a local pub for local people, just as Claude Bosi wants it to be.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Hmmm,

That echoes my report above.

I was told the menu was aimed at a more family lunch crowd, so my initial choices were not on said "daytime" menu, but would make an appearance on the "evening" one.

Fay Macshler's review is a welcome insight to all potential diners.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Claude Bosi is appearing on todays Saturday Kitchen cooking a rather odd sounding Halibut, Pork Pie and Pink Grapefruit dish.

Anthony Demetre is the other featured chef.

The Pork pie may be the version they serve here, if your interested in cooking it.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Claude Bosi is appearing on todays Saturday Kitchen cooking a rather odd sounding Halibut, Pork Pie and Pink Grapefruit dish.

...

The Pork pie may be the version they serve here, if your interested in cooking it.

Despite the pie being blitzed to an un-appetising beige-brown sauce for the Halibut, the BBC (helpfully, you might think) list its recipe http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/halibut_pork_pie_and_74820

However it is absolutely and entirely different to the version Bosi gave in the Waitrose Magazine article "Claude Bosi's Pub Classics" (February 2011, page 68/9) - seemingly not now available on-line.

The filling meat is different, and its spicing.

The pastry is quite different. (350g fats + 500g flour versus just 220g fats + 575g flour)

And the BBC recipe is for something quite different in size and shape to what they showed, sliced, ate (and blitzed) on tv.

At the time I read the Waitrose article, I thought that the idea of making the jelly with Apple Juice sounded interesting. Particularly with the clove/nutmeg/mace spicing of the filling.

However I note that the BBC version of the filling (800g pork belly + 200g pork fat) sounds distinctly greasier than the much more plausible Waitrose version of 750g Shoulder + 500g Belly (half rough chopped, half blitzed). And yes, it even adds up to a different total for the filling... but nowhere near enough to account for the difference between the single 10cm pork-pie-tin and a 20cm springform.

And the detail of the jelly is different in the Waitrose version. To 250 ml of Apple juice, 2 leaves of Gelatine (BBC) or 3 (Waitrose)? But given the different pie content, size and shape - isn't it strange that they both want 250ml of liquid jelly to fill the void?

Unexpectedly, its the BBC version that specifies fleur de sel ... ! (To be cooked into the filling for this paté en croute ... the pastry just gets "salt".)

While the Waitrose version might (or might not) help replicate M. Bosi's pie, the BBC recipe isn't going to deliver anything even vaguely like it.

Could the bizarre difference in the recipes be another echo of 'difficulties' behind the scenes?

Or just someone at the BBC "filling in the blanks" with their own "best effort"?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I don't think the Fox and Grapes has gone down very well with the locals; the beer there has gone up in price and I supsect they don't welcome muddy walkers, rugby players and golfers. Having said that, Wimbledon is a bit of a culinary dessert; for a good meal you have to go to Trinity in Clapham or into the West End.

Regards

Petrus

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