Anchor & Hope – London

Anchor and Hope is a gastro-pub located near the Tate Modern Museum and the Old Vic theater. It has been written about extensively on multiple food sites and lauded often by bloggers. It was recommended as a final dining experience one evening by a London local and I honestly had forgotten that I had received previous recommendations.  Unfortunately, what transpired almost ruined what could have been a stellar dining experience.

As it was our last day in London, my old friend and I were tromping around the Thames, anticipating meeting up with the rest of my party shortly around dusk at the Oxo tower for cocktails. Twenty minutes before our appointed cocktail time, I received a call that they were done with cocktails and getting hungry – why didn’t we all head to the Anchor and Hope and whomever was there first, snag a table for five. “L” tubed over and arrived at approximately 6:15 p.m. and was told a table would not be available until 7:30 or 8:00!  Well, we went ahead and put our name down and headed around the corner to the Wellington for a pint. Needless to say, the fact that the people I was with was willing to wait an hour for this restaurant and not for Tayaabs a few days before was slightly annoying.

We returned at 7:30 and was told it would be another half-hour to 45 minutes. Okay, the boys headed off to another pub and I wandered around a local market. I went and found the boys at the other pub and they indicated they would be right back to Anchor & Hope. I walked back to the restaurant and we were informed that a table for five had been available while we were gone and that it would be another half hour. Can I express how upset we were all getting? By 8:45 (two-and-a-half hours after we checked in!) we got a table. And guess what? Half of what we wanted to order was already crossed off the list.

Starving at this point, we managed to order the beef ribs with béarnaise (their last of the evening), a roast duck (also their last, we were told), a snail salad, cuttlefish risotto, and a fennel gratin. The beef was excellently prepared, delightfully rare, and at this point, great tasting. The snail salad was my least favorite (especially after the one I had at St. John). The duck was quite hearty but I really liked what it was stuffed with (a bit of pork around some cabbage). The winner of the evening was the fennel gratin. All of the food was respectable but I think the enjoyment was due more to abject hunger and having waited so long. I would have liked to enjoy a dessert, but as it was getting on after 11:00 when we were finishing, it was too late for everyone who was anxious to leave. The setting is too crowded, too loud, and too cramped. I would be hard-pressed to ever want to return.
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