Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published July 5th 2014
Never Let Your Tastebuds be Disappointed
You can look left, you can look right, you can look straight ahead, but whichever direction you look, you can rest assure that you'll be looking at an eatery. Pubs, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, street stalls - in Wimbledon they are inescapable. There is somewhere to eat at least every other shop, and more often than not, sitting side by side.
There is certainly no lack of choice, but sometimes that can be just as bad as too little choice. How do you make a decision? Having tried out a vast number of these locales, I am pretty up to date on the best places to eat, whatever sort of mood you're in.
I might as well not waste any time, and start with my absolute favourite. Mae Ping is a Thai restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere. The red and cream colour theme mixed with low lighting makes me feel calm and cosy. Soft instrumental music plays in the background, but is never too loud and always soothing. The walls are fitted with cubicles displaying traditional wooden sculptures.
Mae Ping's customer service is excellent. The staff all wear elegant traditional Thai uniforms, are very friendly, and attentive. If you order a liqueur coffee at the end of your meal, they will provide a bit of blue flame theatre as they show it being made.
The food itself is exquisite; the side dishes are just as high a quality as the mains, never lacking flavour. Their noodles and vegetable accompaniments are particularly excellent.
If you like Italian, then you should try Casa Nostra. Many many years ago, this place was once a Pizza Hut, but as you might expect, the pizzas here are far superior. Baked in a stone oven, they have a thin crispy base, are made with fior de latte mozzarella, and have the most delicious topping combinations. They also have a number of calzone pizzas too. My favourite dish, however is their penne pasta with bacon, chilli, and tomato sauce. Casa Nostra serve traditional Italian deserts such as gelato, tiramisu, and other sweet treats.
My mum frequently dines at Casa Nostra with friends, and is well acquainted with the staff, who always give her 30% off. If you are not my mum, then you can also get 30% when you show them an Odeon cinema ticket.
Wahaca is the new kid on the block, but has already made it into the gang. A Mexican restaurant that values sustainability and quality ingredients, it has a brilliant tapas menu with tacos, burritos, tortillas, and quesadillas full of interesting fillings, and at a good price. The staff could not be more helpful if they tried, and the bright colourful decor makes for a lively atmosphere.
For your curries, you want to go Chutney's. The Indian restaurant also has a bar, and its low blue lighting makes it feel almost like a night club. It can get a bit noisy and crowded at the weekend, but the food is excellent. The dishes are very filling though, so I would recommend going easy on the starters, and sharing main courses.
People like different sorts of things at lunch. Some prefer just a light bite, such as a sandwich or scone, while others want a full size meal. At Elys cafe, you can get both hot and cold afternoon meals. Its updated decor has turned it from a place that once would really only attract middle-age to elderly ladies, to somewhere modern and refined. It has a lovely selection of pastries at the front, as well as various sandwiches. These can be a bit hit and miss, as the amount of filling is not always consistent. I've never tried one of their roast lunches, but seeing them on the hot plates, they do look tasty. Elys also do afternoon tea at an excellent value for money.
Moka is an Italian cafe that reaches out beyond traditional Italian cuisine, and also provides other popular meals such as burgers and all day breakfasts. They also have a specials board, which always has something interesting on the menu. I think their best meals, however, are their pesto pasta and seafood wrap. Moka's use dressings such as pesto, mayonnaise, sour cream, etc, and that is what I think makes them stand out. They also do an ace carrot cake.
Similar to Elys, but with a slight variation in the menu. Their hot meals are presented in a more homey fashion, compared to Elys elegant style, but it is also probably better value for money, once you've done your department store shopping. Service takes a bit longer, but the staff seem a bit friendlier too.
Like crepes? Then go to Crepe Affaire. Don't like crepe? Probably not worth a visit. Although the menu is limited to crepes, waffles and ice cream, if that's what you're after then you won't find a better place to get it. Sweet, savoury, wholesome, and completely gorgeous. There isn't a lot of seating space, and it is a bit cramped at the till, but those crepes are worth it.
There are lots of pubs in Wimbledon, but this is not usually my venue of choice. I have, however, been to The Slug, an Australian pub with a love of sports. A big screen television (plus several smaller ones), is accompanied by humorous plaques, and good traditional pub grub: pie & mash, steak & chips, club sandwiches. If you are looking for some comfort food, puds such as syrup sponge pudding and apple crumble are 'just like mum used to make'. There are lots of good offers on, like two meals for £9.45.
In truth there are no good places to eat in Wimbledon or in Wimbledon Village. If you want to eat well go to Putney - there's cheap and fine dining and good food at both ends of the spectrum. Food in Wimbledon is poor - chains that don't try hard and expensive for what it is. Eating in pubs is no better - there's not enough competition and the clientele indiscriminate. Shame - I'm a lifelong Wimbledon resident. San Lorenzo was (once and a long time ago) the shining exception in the town and there were a couple of pubs in the Village that put on a good show - sadly no more.