Food lover turned food writer Paloma picks out some of Wimbledon’s best restaurants for Valentine’s Day…
The most romantic day of the year to many, but let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is something of a Marmite occasion. Here at Lady Wimbledon, we love everything about it. Some years, particularly when babysitters are in short supply, a quiet night in with a supermarket dine-in menu fits the bill rather nicely. Thankfully, for those who fancy venturing out this year, Wimbledon is awash with menus brimming with hearts, flowers, chocolate and even the odd glass of fizz thrown in for good measure.
Quite frankly, there is no need to schlep into town, particularly welcome in the freezing temperatures. So whether you’re looking to mark the day with a quick breakfast or lunch, once the kids are at school, or wait until they’re tucked up in bed and treat yourself to a well-deserved night off bath time, it’s all here, right on SW19’s doorstep.
THE IVY CAFÉ, WIMBLEDON VILLAGE
Open for some time, locals still haven’t gotten over the fact that they no longer have to rush off to Covent Garden for the glitzy Ivy experience, and The Ivy Café Wimbledon remains one of Wimbledon Village’s hottest tables. A clever bunch and unwilling to disappoint its loyal customer base, you’ll find no special menu here. What would you do if the signature Shepherd’s Pie or with its lamb/beef filling, Shepherd’s Pie-Cottage Pie hybrid, as I like to think of it, were left off the menu? Imagine not being able to order Blackened Cod? It would be unthinkable and sure to cause a revolution.
Panic over: I can hear everyone breathing a sigh of relief. For those who fancy a walk on the decadent a side, there are a couple of romantic specials on offer, in the shape of a glass of rosé fizz – Lanique & Ivy Collection Champagne or Rose Petal Martini – Lanique, Plymouth Gin, Lychee Juice and dashes of Peychauds Bitters. And if ever there were a day for sharing dessert – if you can bear to – this is it. Roses Are Red, Berries Are Too – white chocolate cheese cake, raspberries, strawberries and red rose petals serves two. All are available 13th – 16th February.
The Ivy Café’s a la carte menu lends itself perfectly to Valentine’s dining so much so, I’m unsure it could have been improved upon. Spoil yourselves with starters, such as Ivy Cure Smoked Salmon, followed by Fillet of Beef. Oh so luxurious. Go on, you deserve it.
HOTEL DU VIN WIMBLEDON
For some in the Village, the glow will linger a little longer. With the message Love Tastes Good, Hotel du Vin’s three course menu includes a glass of champagne, and will be available 13th until 16th February so no excuse to miss it. Priced £85 for two on Thursday, and £99 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the menu represents hard to beat value, as usual focusing on the best seasonal ingredients to create a feast to end all feasts.
What can diners expect? Starters including Chicken Liver Parfait, served with brioche toast, raisin chutney; Classic French Onion Soup; Fritto Misto with Chilli; Garlic Roast Scallop and Tiger Prawns will get the meal off to a flying start. Time to move up tempo now, and on to the main course, Duck Shepherd’s Pie, Chateaubriand, and Tomato and Garlic Sausage Cassoulet, all well thought out and devised to add a certain je ne sais quai. So far so typically French and in all honesty, downright delicious. Those with a sweet tooth will cheer at the sight of Baba Au Rhum, served with Chantilly cream, and for those with more savoury leanings, a platter of four French cheeses.
Fancy pushing the boat a bit? A little bird tells me Hotel du Vin Wimbledon has availability on its dine and stay deals, starting at £225, including dinner, bed, and breakfast the following day.
601 QUEEN’S RD
Now, don’t get me wrong, we love the Village but moving down the Hill, so many restaurants are holding their own – too many to mention, if truth be told. 601 Queen’s Rd gives diners the opportunity to absorb the hustle and bustle of Central Wimbledon, with not one but two Valentine’s specials. First up, for every glass of champagne purchased, get another on the house. Those social media savvy have the chance to win a winery tour, tasting and lunch for two at Chapel Down Vineyard. Just take a snap with a glass of their fizz and tag @theaddress_is and @chapeldown.
That’s the drinks sorted, but what looks good to eat? This place has it all, no matter what your mood. Small plates for sharing with the one you love seem like a good way to begin – Thai Style Crab Cakes, Slow Cooked Beef Tacos and Fennel Spice Crispy Squid, and then perhaps a short break and main, like Free-Range Chicken Schnitzel or Wild Mushroom Gnocchi. We’ve picked the highlights as we see them but you know what they say about the proof is in the pudding. Over to you and time for you to go and see for yourself but whichever way your palate leads you, you’re unlikely to leave dissatisfied.
Written By: Paloma Lacy
Food lover, turned food writer, Paloma has spent the past 10 years in search of the Capital’s finest eateries, reviewing restaurants for a range of publications, including South London Press and London Weekly News. A South London girl at heart, she believes its boroughs boast some memorable dining experiences set to satisfy even the most discerning palate. London is alive with brunch, lunch and dinner choices to suit every pocket, from the humble neighbourhood spot, right through to the starrier end of the market.