Review: Anchor & Hope, Southwark

Tomatoes on toast

Tomatoes on toast

I was a bit disgruntled on getting back to London after 10 years away. There are so many great places I wanted to eat, but what about reviewing them on the blog? Years and years after every major paper and hip London blogger has reviewed them? Bit late to the game, right? And then I had a brainwave. My new series of blogs will be cleverly subtitled: “Yes, but is it still any good?”

So. The Anchor & Hope. First of the great London gastropubs. It set the stage and changed the game back in 2003, when pub food was all lasagne and baltis. Reviews were gushing. But… is it still any good?

Yes. Yes it is.

The first thing that surprises me is that the pub is neatly split in two. There’s one half that is a classic rammed-after-work London boozer, and then behind a curtain there’s a pared back dining room of simple scrubbed wood and dark walls. They could have filled the place with dining tables and never looked back, but they didn’t. Bravo. Service is friendly and super-competent.

Duck hearts

Duck hearts

My starter was stupidly simple on paper and absolutely knock-down gorgeous to eat. Tomatoes, mint and cream on toast. These were big manzano tomatoes, sliced in half and slowly roasted until they’d firmed up from lost water, and developed a ginormous tomato flavour. The drizzled cream had warmed up and picked up a tomatoey stain and some of the mint, and cut the gentle acidity of the tomatoes perfectly.

Basically, I have a new favourite dish to try at home. Already tried it once, worked a treat.

Maureen’s gazpacho was rustic and freshly delicious, but she was definitely envious. Mind you, she won the main courses. Duck hearts that had been devilled in a darkly spicy gravy and served on flatbread with humous and tatziki. Anyone who doesn’t love a grilled duck heart is missing something. I stuck with a veggie theme and went for a courgette and girolle risotto. It had a splendidly summery courgette flavour to it, as they had put in bags of both courgette and butter. This was a hearty risotto! The big crispy ricotto beignet on top was delicious, a dark brown and crunchy batter with milky cheese oozing out into the rice.

And wouldn’t you know it, both the wines we picked by the glass were delicious and at friendly pub prices. The Anchor & Hope is still definitely very good indeed.

Courgette and girolle risotto

Courgette and girolle risotto

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