If like me, you are a tennis fan then you will know that Wimbledon fortnight is about strawberries and cream, extreme weather conditions and a roller coaster of emotions as it is the one grand slam where one can expect the unexpected. There is a real atmosphere in the ground as thousands of people from all over the world descend on this tiny corner of SW19 to sit in one of the 19 grass courts at the All England Tennis Club or to squish onto Henman Hill to watch another unpredictable match unfold. As uniquely wonderful as the atmosphere is, it can be a nightmare to get tickets which means the chances of actually getting to the championships are pretty slim and we all know it’s not the same when watching from your television. It is for this reason that I love to spend as much of Wimbledon fortnight as possible at the Bluebird.
Each year the Bluebird Café is transformed into the centre court of Chelsea, with a tennis lawn marked out on the faux grass carpet, giant tennis balls over head on the canopy and a huge three metre square outdoor high-def television to show all the action from the championships. To me this is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the tennis; there is a fantastic vibe about the place which resembles that of Murray Mount, only here one is in far more plush surroundings, seated on comfortable garden furniture encircled by bottles of fizz on ice and jugs of fruity booze laden Pimms.
This forecourt area of Bluebird complex is keen to stay close to its café roots, so unlike their somewhat pretentious restaurant, there is a very laid back menu on offer. The menu is old school cooking, fast, furious and simple – it works a treat. Here one can tuck into a crispy chicken Caesar salad, devour large bowls of garlic laced prawn pasta or go for my favourite section of the menu – the BBQ. I find a good barbeque epitomizes British summer dining and the chefs here really know how to cook over an open flame. From the mouthwatering cheese burgers stuffed with bacon, to the perfectly cooked rib eye steak with chilli butter sauce, the food is perfectly cooked and utterly delicious. The chips are crisp, fluffy and golden and have that classic little pile of crispy bits at the bottom of the bowl – I find I have to exert some real self control to stop myself picking up the bowl and tipping it straight into my mouth. Although I’m not a huge pudding fan, the Eton Mess is certainly not to be missed here as it is stuffed with ripe strawberries, chunks of chewy meringue and dollops of clotted cream; it is the essence of summer in a bowl.
Besides the drinks, food and service which assist with the vibrant atmosphere there is also great people watching to be done, I love sitting here, as I am now, typing away on my iPad, watching the tennis but also observing the cool clientele behind their giant sunglasses rotating like satellite dishes as the ball booms from one side of the net to the other on the supersized screen. The crowd here are what you may describe as decent; in amongst the trilby wearing sloanes and beautiful model types there are a mix of business men who have escaped from the office to watch a set or two over a mineral water at lunch, members of the media enjoying a bottle of champagne before heading over the road to nearby Raffles to continue the party along with families spending quality time together in this unique atmosphere.
Wimbledon is a great British institution and so is the Bluebird Café so hurry down here and grab yourself a slice of the greatest tennis show on earth.