Thursday, 31 January 2013

Fox and Anchor

Last year I was invited along to spend the evening at The Fox & Anchor with a number of other bloggers to celebrate the launch of their ‘Best of British’ menu. I am incredibly overdue in writing this post, and although some of the items on the menu have now changed in accordance with seasonality – the ethos remains the same and so I am keen to share my experience.

Firstly I must say Charterhouse Street located The Fox & Anchor is steeped in old-worldly charm - it is, what I would describe as a ‘boozer’, they have an impressive array of beverages and pride themselves on being a ‘great British pub’, which I think they pull off well. 

I arrived on a cold, wet and windy evening and the first thought on arrival was how lovely and warm it was and how this place reminded me of cosy country pubs far away from the hum of London, a great start.

I joined a group of bloggers, and was lucky enough to be seated beside May of Slow Food Kitchen and Tori from Eat Tori and as well as enjoying the food, it was great to catch up with like-minded women who made for fabulous company too and shared some of their top London eating spots – which is always good.

We were welcomed with some sparkling wine and whilst making our menu choices were invited to sample some classic pub snacks, Scotch eggs, pork pies, sausage rolls, piccalilli and, of course, pork scratchings. The sausage rolls were lovely, filled with a quality, herby sausage and surrounded by delicious flaky pastry. The pickle was also good, but the pork scratchings were my favourite. These had the brilliance of those served at Pitt Cue and proved to be like Pringles, once I’d popped I couldn’t stop.

I decided to go for the crab rarebit to start, which comprised brown crabmeat spread onto a slice of rye bread, topped with Cheddar and a little Worcester Sauce, then grilled. As is often the case, although this was simplicity itself – it was perfection. A few ingredients done well and seasoned beautifully for a deliciously light start. 

For the main I was torn between so many of the dishes, I am such a great lover of hearty British cookery and this menu screams of childhood favourites. I finally opted for one of the pies, a speciality of The Fox & Anchor, after careful consideration and confirming that I could try somebody else’s ham hock, which had also caught my attention.

My pie wasn’t traditional, its ‘crust’ was made up of brioche and the filling was slow cooked duck, in a sweet and almost sticky sauce or gravy. It was fantastic and different to anything I’ve tried before. Used to having duck pink, I was surprised at how tender and flavoursome the meat was, it had remained slightly sweet and the sweetness was enhanced by the brioche exterior.

We shared a selection of all of the sides and standout ones for me, were the creamy mash, champ and honey glazed carrots – again great British classics, but executed very well. 

I tried the ham hock, which was exceptional, it was literally falling off of the bone and full of the irresistibly salty flavours I remember from childhood family dinners – I would certainly opt for this if I went again.

I must mention though that both the duck pie and the ham hock were absolutely huge portions – I struggled to finish half, and I’m not shy when shovelling in food. I would suggest if you have a smaller appetite sharing a main course as it can be a little overwhelming to be presented with such a large dish. Perfect for bigger appetites – dare I say it, these are ‘man-sized’ portions, which is almost suitable for such a venue.

We were persuaded into trying a dessert, which I have to say I felt guilty about as I only managed a little spoonful of mine. I chose the traditional apple pie with vanilla custard, which was gorgeous and had that delicious caramel filling that makes each mouthful a joy – a winner, but disappointing that I couldn’t finish it. 

We had a number of different wines throughout the evening and really had a fantastic time. I couldn’t fault any of the dishes I tried on flavour at all, presentation was also good for this style of cooking and my only slight niggle would be the size of the mains, but better to be too big than too small I suppose. As we were guests of the restaurant, I didn’t pay on this occasion, however the menu is very reasonable with mains all under £16 and they have a number of mid-week deals such as ‘Pie and a Pint’ Tuesdays for £12.95 and the like so it is certainly an affordable venue.

If you are looking for traditional British food, served in comfortable old-English style surroundings without an extortionate price tag then The Fox & Anchor is the place for you.

 Fox & Anchor on Urbanspoon

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