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Monday 15 November 2010

London's Best Independent Pubs - Fox and Anchor

Whenever I feel like having well made, traditional British food with a contemporary twist I head down to Charterhouse Square. Tucked away from the excitement of Charterhouse Street and Smithfields Market, the Fox and Anchor has, for years, been my local gastro pub of choice.

Despite its discreet location, the pub is always popular with regulars ranging from the nearby meat traders and City professionals, to students and tourists. There is a fine suite of six luxury hotel rooms above the pub. I have not stayed there myself but they look elegant from their website pictures and at £95 for a special "Lazy Weekend" rate, I feel it is also good value considering the central location (click here for details).

On a busy autumnal evening, Dr G and I found ourselves perusing once again the familiar menu. To kick off proceedings, we shared a delicious bowl of "Crab and Seafood Bisque" @ £6.95. The broth was creamy and rich, and unlike the more usual smooth bisques, it had small pieces of fish and seafood.

This was followed by another favourite Fox and Anchor dish - "Potted shrimp on toasted crumpets" @ £6.50. I really loved the texture and flavour of the Morecambe Bay brown shrimps served on toasted/buttered crumpets, and the delicious aromas of mace and nutmeg. I would struggle to find a better accompaniment to our first round of pale ales than this dish.

I am always slightly at a loss as what to drink when I visit the Fox and Anchor - the choices of draft and bottled beers can sometimes be mind boggling. The staff are always at hand and are more than happy to advise on their range of beers. On that evening, Dr G and I started on a couple of pale ales, "Sierra Nevada" and "Mad Goose" which were both excellent.

Being a real "Steak Tartare" fan, I just had to have a small "starter" portion @ £7.50. The meat tasted fresh and had been finely chopped - it was well seasoned with onions, gherkins and fresh herbs and was delicious.

The "English asparagus with poached duck egg & hollandaise sauce" @ £7.50 was also very good. The asparagus spears were tender but not overcooked and the accompanying duck egg and the hollandaise sauce were richly contrasting.

For main course, Dr G opted for "Calf's liver, onion gravy and mashed potatoes" @ £14.50. The liver was yielding but still slightly bloody, with the mashed potatoes creamy and perfectly textured to soak up the onion gravy.

Every time I visit the Fox and Anchor, I try and order something other than their burger, and as always, I failed on this occasion. "The Fox and Anchor burger with goose fat chips" @ £12.50 is in my opinion usually one of the best in London. On this visit however I felt the patty was minced a little too finely, making it rather dense, dry and hard. On the other hand, the goose fat chips were faultless.

To accompany our main courses, we shared a large bottle of "Meantime Indian Pale Ale" @ £6. Made in Greenwich, the brewery has its own pub - "Greenwich Union Bar" on Royal Hill which is another favourite of mine south of the River.

The wine list at the Fox and Anchor is comprehensive and well thought out, with many bottles below the £20 mark. On that evening Dr G and I struck up a conversation with Christine, Rob and Estelle, a friendly trio who were merrily working their way through a few of the bottles on offer.

Cost: Around £25 for a 3-course British meal per person excluding drinks.

Likes: Unfussy British cooking, seasonal ingredients at reasonable prices. Excellent range of beers on tap and bottle as well as a decent and well price wine list. I would strongly recommend the goose fat chips, the steak tartare, and the seafood bisque. I also love their pies, particularly the steak and ale.

Dislikes: The large TV screen in the main bar area feels somewhat out of place and can be rather intrusive for those after a relaxing dinner. The burger patty was not up to their usual high standards on this visit.

Verdict: One of my favourite gastro pubs in London, serving great food and a wide selection of beers and wines at very reasonable prices. A very good place to experience what British cooking is all about. Highly recommended.

Fox & Anchor on Urbanspoon


  1. "for years" = since May of 2008?

  2. It's another great pub in an area blessed with more than one. I have only eaten there for lunch once before, but it was good.

    I have to say though, the roast meat sandwich, although good, pales in comparison to those brown shrimps on crumpets - what a brilliant combo! The crumpets would soak up the shrimpy fat beautifully. Sitting not five minutes from there now, I'm tempted to abscond from work and hit up their brekkie to see if it's as good as the dinner you had.

  3. Luiz - insane pictures. Especially as I know how hard they must have been to take given it is always so dark in there!

    PS did you know it nearly shut down permanently (it was closed for a fair while) until Malmaison took over)

  4. Still not made it here so it's firmly on the list, thanks Luiz. That burger looks interesting, but it's the potted shrimp on crumpets that has stolen my attention....

  5. I just went there a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it (me usually not very convinced by British cooking). They messed up our steak tartare though, it tasted like bloody mary, too much worcester.

  6. @ Krista - the Fox and Anchor has been around for many years, I used to go there as a university student in the 90's for their breakfast, which was what they were very famours for back then when the clientele was mostly made up of the meat traders and cab drivers (those guys know their breakfast!). The pub has recently (2007/08) gone through a total refurb when it was purchased by Malmaison, it was re-opened to the public at the end of 2007 or possibly beginning of 2008.

    Your Fox and Anchor review is dated March 08 (you note that you visited it in February 08), so I am a little puzzled about your May 08 comment. I found some reviews of this pub dating back to 2003 here: http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/comments.shtml/4278/

    @ The Grubworm - spot on regarding those shrimps and crumpet, such a favourite. If you can get hold of that seafood bisque, I highly recommend it that too. Let me know when you decide to go there, I would love to return.

    @ TomEats - Hey Tom, great to hear from you. It was quite a challenge to take those pictures and very few were actually usable, thanks. I was aware that it had been bought out in 2007 by Malmaison which was in fact a good thing and I am so glad it is still here today.

    @ Simon - Hi Simon, nice to see you here mate! Yes, the shrimps and crumpets are such a great combo, the burger has always been excellent (apart from this particular visit), I am getting hungry as I type...

    @ Ute@HungryinLondon: a gastronome/food blogger that is not convinced by British Food???? A total disgrace! ;o)

    Why don't you join us for The Best of British at the London Cooking Club on 16/04/11, I would so much like to convert you. More details here: http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/p/london-cooking-club.html

  7. I just remember that it was under complete refurb and closed for most of if not all of 2007 and was being run by Malmaison once it reopened. For me, it was always a new place. Never visited during its boozer days so you've got me there. Mar/May =my typo and the Internet says they reopened in late 2007 anyhow so I was wrong.

  8. By and large, some excellent food but that burger looks SO wrong! I guess the food has to be decent in this part of town, as Clerkenwell is full of great eateries.

    I'm eating at the nearby Cafe du Marche next week, so I'll definitely pop in here before and/or after for a beer and some reconnaissance for a future visit.

  9. Hi Luiz!
    Sounds like a great place.
    I'm not a fan of TV's unless it's a sports bar. Good call.

  10. @ Krista - no worries.

    @ Mr Noodles - pls do, you will be pleasantly surprised. I haven't given up on that burger though - I have had it a few times in the past, they have always been very good apart from this occasion.

    @ Lori Lynn - lovely to see you here again! I think it is also a great place/location to stay at in London, so if you plan a visit soon, I would recommend it.

  11. I hear they have a very good wine list, will have to do my own bit of sleuthing and report back upon my return to Londontown....D

  12. This place looks friggin amazing. As a New Yorker who has recently moved to London I still havent felt like I've have really good British food, I will have to try this place. Looks like it could rock my world, and at such a great price!


  13. Was that burger or a hunk of cow? Must put that on my list to try.

  14. I love the Fox and Anchor - it's such a great pub with a snug and everything. Friends and I normally order a selection of starters to share because they're always so appealing, along with some goose fat chips of course, so II don't order from the main menu often enough - must correct that!

  15. @ The Winesleuth - Hi Denise, indeed they do but we decided to go for their beers/ales on this occasion which were also very good.

    @ God Saves Les Filles - Hi Caroline, I thoroughly recommend Fox and Anchor as a very decent British pub, great food and beers at reasonable prices. Great place to take your relatives when they visit you in the UK too.

    @ May - the burger is excellent there normally but on this occasion I felt the patty was a little too hard, but definitely worth trying, I certainly will again!

    @ Ginancrumpets - I know what you mean, I also like having variety and a selection of nibbles and goose fat chips would go perfectly with beers or wine. Nice to see you here lady!


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