My love affair with The Alexandra Pub in Wimbledon started when a friend suggested we get our old school friends together and try out their pub quiz. We are now regulars for several reasons. The Alexandra has what many pubs are lacking; consistantly good food, a pleasant interior and fantastic staff. It never smells like old booze and vomit, nor is it spangled with cheap drinks deals circa Weatherspoons. It hasn't suffered the fate of many pubs in England - closing in the recession or transformation to generic gastro pub. Neither has it conjoined it's menu to a bizarre array of Thai cuisine.
When we arrive at the quiz on a Monday night, The Alex's popularity is clear. The quiz might not start til 8pm but the tables are being saved by the regulars from as early as 6.30pm. Unseasoned late comers are always a bit put out to arrive and to find the place rammed. The no booking policy leaves the regulars no choice but to arrive early but it is never begrudgingly. Tilly the border terrier, a seasoned patron, is happy to be admired for the extra hour or so. Quiz goers are sticklers for the rules, no smart phones here. My GSCE grade geography is put to the test weekly. Who know so many people lived in caves in China? Those who arrive for a quiet drink can go to the following room, watch the sports fixtures and enjoy a pint in a more traditional atmosphere.
The menu is small but simple, the perfect entree to get the grey matter working. If you haven't the time or room for a main, delicious home made bar snacks are displayed in vintage glass cake boxes and change daily. I can't speak highly enough of the food. I asked the opinions of my fellow diners who offered praise but would like to see specials like the Shepard's Pie and Fish Pie make the regular menu. My vegetarian friend felt as though the menu was for lack of a better word 'manly and meaty'. There are a great many heavy meat options available, such as steak, pork belly and burgers. Perhaps there could be a few more lighter chicken and grilled fish options, and definitely more vegetarian options. However the expertise of the kitchen shows, as I have never had a disappointing meal there. As the menu changes seasonally, I've no doubt salads will make a welcome appearance. Served on wooden platers and miss-matched crockery, the fare is typical pub grub executed very well. I had the fish and chips (£11.25) and Eton mess (5.25), all to die for. The pricing is definitely more towards the higher end but reflects it's local clientèle. Besides, I would rather pay more for quality than £4.99 for microwavable, unsustainable and beige looking meal from a chain pub.
When it comes to the weekend, the heated terrace with it's own bar, music and spacious seating areas, comes into its own. It has a different feel to the other areas, the ideal place to start a Friday night out. It is a breath of fresh air to Wimbledon's night life which relies heavily on cheap booze and tired bars. It comes into its own in the summer months, a cubby for locals to enjoy during the bustle visitors to the tennis tournaments. The toilets are always clean and well stocked even on the Alex's heavy weekend nights, an unusual quality for a woman regularly confronted a toilet roll absence. The range of drinks is large and reasonably priced. There is the feeling that patrons of all ages are welcome; as a group of 20 somethings, we have never felt alienated or unwelcome. Indeed, Mick the landlord himself is welcoming, remembering the faces of many and cleverly maintaining relationships over social media platforms. He really makes the Monday quiz, tunelessly singing his way through the music round to rapturous applause. I hear there's a poker night on a Tuesday and live entertainment in the form of comedy, poetry readings and music on Sunday's aptly dubbed 'Stretch Out The Weekend.' I can't pass comment on these having not attended but watch this space for a review as and when.
In sum, a pub of this calibre shines amongst it's competitors, not just in Wimbledon but in South London as a whole.