Based near Southwark tube station, The Anchor and Hope is the first pub/restaurant from the people behind the Canton Arms, Great Queen Street and the Camberwell Arms. We enjoyed our meals at their other restaurants and as we haven’t been to their original one for so long, we thought we’d pop along for a spot of din dins.
As it’s no reservations, at 8pm on a Thursday night, we were faced with an hour wait for a table – at least we could have a drink the bar, eh. When we were finally taken to the packed and possibly too crowded dining room (we were plonked at a shared table and I had a seat that was properly in everyone’s way) the paper menu that was placed before us had five things crossed off. To wait all that time and then find the confit duck leg, steak pie, and shoulder of lamb had all run out was a little disappointing.
Instead, I ordered the Lop Porchetta but the waiter returned and said they’d run out of that too. It was only 9pm – it seemed ludicrous that they had sold out of all but one of the meat-based main courses. A new menu then appeared with an extra dish squiggled on – a roasted quail, so we opted for that.
Starters arrived in record breaking time – even before we’d had the chance to order any drinks which added to our irritation. The mousserons (mushrooms) and wild garlic on toast (£7.40) were surprisingly bland and tasteless. No flavour of garlic was present whatsoever and the mushrooms were really watery.
The potted shrimps (£7.80) also came swimming in a watery sauce which contained very little of the melted butter I had hoped for. I had a similar dish of potted shrimp served on a large buttered crumpet at Camberwell Arms, which was divine – here the one small slice of toast seemed miserly. You couldn’t compare the two dishes.
A massive wait then incured for our main courses. The roast quail served with a snail and bacon kebab (£16) was a total disaster. The kebab contained no bacon, just over cooked, chewy and tasteless snails. The quail, although well cooked, was so incredibly small…and cold. The accompanying chickpea purée on a lone, undressed lettuce leaf was also really unpleasant. It felt like they’d cobbled a dish together out of whatever they could find in the cupboard.
The grilled lemon sole with leeks, brown shrimps and buttered almonds was equally as disastrous. The fish, which lacked any flavour whatsoever, clung to the bone making it almost impossible to de-bone neatly. The crunchy almonds were an odd combination for the fish – it felt like I was crunching through bones with every mouthful. The plate was also far too small for the fish and the mound of leeks.
By this point we couldn’t wait to leave so avoided ordering desserts. Two scoops of ice cream were however brought to the table by way of apology, which was a kind touch but the flavour tasted bitter, like burnt caramel, which wasn’t hugely pleasant.
Service throughout our dinner felt out of control – staff were running round like headless chickens which added to the completely chaotic experience. I also found it unforgivable to run out of so much food so early on – for a restaurant that is always busy why wouldn’t they simply have a better stocked kitchen? That has got to be one of the most disappointing dinners I’ve ever experienced.