London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



There's a very simple recipe for success that not enough London restaurants seem to follow: if you get the basics right, everything else will follow. Too many places try and overstretch themselves, forcing new, increasingly complex dishes onto their menus and encouraging waiting staff to become part of the theatre of the venue without much regard for the quality of the dishes. Gimmicks are fine, provided the essentials are in check, but too often this is just not the case.

Reds in Wimbledon is fortunately not one of these cases, turning simplicity into an art form. A casual restaurant, it's a great place to come with friends and forget all your healthy eating resolutions. Specialising in huge burgers, barbecued meat, Tex-Mex and all things American, it's an incredibly relaxed atmosphere made all the better by excellent service. A small dining room at the front opens up onto the pavement to create a perfect environment for hot summer days (if they eventually get here), but we chose to sit further back in a slightly larger room at the rear of the restaurant.

It's almost impossible to have an American meal and not start with barbecued chicken wings, and these did not let us down. Four giant wings, red hot off the grill, coated in sticky, sweet barbecue sauce. The meat fell from the bone effortlessly and we couldn't get enough of them. There's no way to look demure whilst eating chicken wings however, just accept that you're going to get barbecue sauce all over your face and dive straight in. For starters, we also ate the warm goat's cheese baked on large portobello mushrooms with rocket and balsamic dressing (our one nod to food other than meat). The cheese was gooey and melted into the mushroom and the salad and had none of the bitter aftertaste that a goat's cheese salad sometimes has.

Following this came the main event: a huge rack of pork ribs and a giant Red Star burger with fries. The ribs, served with salad and coleslaw, were thick and chunky and the meat fell from the bone as easily as the chicken. We can only presume that these had been grilled slowly for a long time. The portion size was big and almost too much for one person - we say 'almost', because when they're this good, you can always find a little extra room in your stomach. The Red Star burger is a classic bacon cheeseburger and tastes better than we can do it justice in words. It was thick and juicy and a cut above the average mass-produced meat disc, tasting more homemade than mass-produced with great quality meat. Topped with crispy bacon, more barbecue sauce and a particularly tangy Leicester cheese, we were craving another as soon as we started to write this. Served with Cajun fries, the seasoning was enough to tickle the taste buds without distracting from the other flavours.

Reds is not fine gastronomy, but it doesn't pretend to be. What it is though is one of the finest neighbourhood restaurants we've been to and somewhere we'd be delighted to go back to. The menu serves classic old school dishes that have stood the test of time and rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, Reds has just perfected the very simple art of good food, cooked well.

If you want great quality comfort food with outstanding service at prices that won't break the bank, we can't rate Reds highly enough.

86 The Broadway, SW19 1RQ

Average price for a main meal: £9
Average price for a glass of wine: £4.50
 Food/drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 5/5

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