Finding myself with an idle afternoon, having finished some errands in town and in a mood to have someone else do the cooking, without wanting the grease of another takeaway, I decided to wander to The Anchor.
The pub is nestled in the very heart of leafy
In contrast to such a fairy-tale setting, the decor of the place is understated: pleasant enough, with the restaurant area feeling bright and airy, dotted with a few large plants. These details lend a vaguely Mediterranean feel but they don't ooze personality. I imagine that the management decided to let the food speak for itself. The menu is varied and interesting: meaty mains with imaginative twists, pub classics recreated with sophisticated, high-quality ingredients, and a full children's menu with a careful selection - ideal for treating the little ones to something more memorable than chicken nuggets. Service was super-efficient: within five minutes of being seated, we were furnished with drinks and a jug of tap water, and had ordered our supper.
I opted for the asparagus and pea gnocchi while my partner chose the pan-fried chicken, both of which arrived promptly and beautifully presented. I had dithered over whether to get a starter and had decided against it, which proved just as well, because the portion sizes are hefty. It is refreshing to find places with a balance of care being taken over the food, while still offering enough sustenance to allow you to feel like you're treating yourself. The gnocchi had a pleasant texture and provided a perfect vehicle for the flavours of the pesto, goat's curd and hazelnuts which accompanied it. The overall ensemble was moreishly savoury, combining delightfully with my glass of house white. My partner's chicken, while perhaps not being the most exciting choice, proved equal parts crispy and juicy, enriched by a generous helping of garlic butter and finished with a serving of golden fries. We also tried a side of courgette and feta fritters (a bit of a tongue twister to order!): another generous portion size and satisfyingly crispy, if a little bland - I would have preferred a chilli jam to dip them in, rather than the cucumber yoghurt they came with.
After all this, I was understandably reluctant to order a dessert, but the options on the menu are described in such a tempting way that we settled on getting one to share. Our pecan sundae was a fun way of transforming a childhood favourite into a grown-up treat, with lashings of caramel sauce enveloping a sweet, crunchy pecan crumble offset by smooth vanilla ice cream.
The superb food exceeded our expectations based on the price, especially in such an affluent part of town - our total bill was just over £50 before service. It was therefore a surprise that it wasn't busier. That said, I anticipate the beer garden to be completely heaving when the sun shines, and also that the atmosphere perks up later into the night: a candlelit dinner here would make for a memorable celebration, particularly if, like me, you're a fan of excellent quality food without shelling out too much.