Category: Bistro (Â£Â£)
I was very lucky to be invited to Fox & Anchor as the food in this lovely and authentic pub has really challenged my (admittedly slightly snobby) view on British cuisine. Of course I occasionally enjoy a traditional Sunday roast,Â well done fish and chips are a real treat and British desserts are my guilty pleasure, but overall British cuisine has not yet made it into my top ten. With the exception ofÂ St. John’s Bread & Wine (I have not eaten at St. John yet) which has definitely introduced some very interesting and delicious British dishes into my – as I can see now -Â very limited culinary universe, I have not eaten much British food worth writing home about. As opposed to St. John’s Bread and Wine, Fox & Anchor is not fancy at all. It serves simple British dishes without any fuss and pretense and (to my surprise) I liked the result very much.
Having said all this, we made the mistake of ordering one non-British dish, the steak tartare, which was a disaster (very red light). But even with this single culinary catastrophe I heartily recommend this place to everyone for authentic, reasonably priced and delicious British cuisine in very appealing surroundings. In fact, this is the must-visit place for us Londoners with non-English roots to take our parents to when they come to visit.
We went on a Friday evening and a jolly crowed had gather already outside and in the front room of the pub for post-work drinks.Â When we finally pushed through the crowd we got to the small dining area at the back of the pub with a main room and some little side rooms and alcoves. The pub which is attached to a small hotel with 6 luxury rooms in close proximity to Smithfield’s Market has been serving food and drinks since the Victorian era. It has been renovated in 2008 but has retained the atmosphere of the prototypical English pub: dark wood panelling with an open fire place and mismatched furniture – all together very cozy. We had a lovely table in one of those little alcove and if this is not the perfect place for a date then I don’t know.
It was very busy and as a result the service was a bit slow over times, but the waitress who was responsible for our table was very friendly and gave us some excellent recommendations on what to order. Fox & Anchor are not cutting corners: even after everyone else is serving ciabatta or focacciaÂ or whatever other kinds of fancy bread, they do not follow the fashion but serve traditional English white bread which actually was not bad at all.
I was very intrigued by the menu and I was determined to order dishes I either never tried before or only had in very bad versions.Coronation Chicken,(5.95) clearly is one of them. I know coronation chicken only from our lunch seminars at work where we usually get very bad sandwiches – and of all the bad coronation chicken is the worst. Coronation chicken has been invented in 1953 for the banquet at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the Fox & Anchor version was surprisingly pleasant.Â The cold chicken immersed in a creamy curry sauce with raisins and almonds was served on toasted bread with fresh green salad on the side and had very little to do with the sandwiches at work. This is how British cuisine gets its bad reputation!
Also for the next starter I had no idea of what to expect: Potted Beef with Piccalilli (6.50) turned out to be deliciously flavoured and tender cooked beef in a beef broth which tasted remarkably similar to the clear beef soup (Rindsuppe) that we love in Austria. Piccalilli, which I found out translates as ‘spiced mustard pickle’, is a relish with pickled vegetables such as cauliflower in a mustard and tumeric sauce. Very peculiar but not unpleasant at all, and it tasted lovely together with the beef.
As I have newly discovered my love for pies (I tasted a delightful chicken pot pie in NYC a couple of weeks ago), I was keen on trying the British version and Fox & Anchor did not disappoint there either: the rabbit, bacon and cider pie (13.50) was enormous but I did not leave a crumb behind. The golden flaky crust was light and breaking through it I got to the steaming hot filling of tender rabbit and small potatoes in a subtly flavoured but very delectable sauce.
Everything went very well up until the moment we sampled the steak tartare and chips (16.95). The nice waitress recommended us to try the steak tartare and we went along not knowing that we would be getting something remarkable resembling a Meat Bloody Mary. One could not taste the meat at all (which appeared to be of high quality) as our taste buds immediately got numbed by an explosion of Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Only the celery stick was missing.. If this is the British take on steak tartare then I would recommend sticking with indigenous dishes.
As you can imagine considering these more than generous portions I was absolutely stuffed but I was led astray by the outlook of a real apple and cinnamon crumble. And scrumptious it was! Steaming hot apple not overly sweet with a tinge of cinnamon and a light crumble on top with rich vanilla ice cream melting in is as close to heaven as a dessert can get you.
I was more rolling than walking out of Fox & Anchor but I was happy.
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 6/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Chances of returning: I will take my parents when they visit next!
- Verdict: perfection of simple British cuisine
HungryinLondon was guest of Fox & Anchor.