- Food & Drink
Last year I put out an appeal on twitter for somewhere to eat near the Barbican. Food Urchin recommended the Fox and Anchor and as Bellerina and I like a pub, we settled in for a dinner of oysters, scotch egg and goose fat chips before immersing ourselves in the refinement of the Barbican’s cinema (you can read the review here).
It was a great dinner and with another improving trip to the Barbican planned, the question of where to eat beforehand was settled and booked before the film ticket reservations were complete (even blockbusters count as improving if you see them at the Barbican).
We reserved a table for 4pm on Sunday. I arrived first and ordered a half of Mad Goose, which came in a delicate lady’s mug. Moments later Bellerina came through the doors and our bar man/waiter whisked us to our table at the back of the pub. Then he said the dread words: “There’s a bit of a problem.”
Apparently their kitchens close at 4pm on Sundays (although their website still says 5pm). He was new and had agreed the reservation by mistake. They would, of course, feed us but – and here he looked pleadingly at us – if we could decide what we wanted quite quickly, he would be forever in our debt. Having, for a second, thought we were about to be denied food or only allowed sandwiches, we were all over him with assurances of speedy decision making.
I’m a fast decider anyway and the fish and chips had caught my eye before I’d even unrolled my napkin. Bellerina asked for the roast dinner, which they do with soup to start and a pint of beer for £13.50, but without the soup. Our bar man/waiter ran off to the kitchen with our orders and a board of thickly sliced white bread and butter arrived for us to chew on while we waited.
The first thing to say about the Fox and Anchor’s fish and chips is that it comes in a mini frying basket and is therefore guaranteed to be reviewed by me as brilliant. All food that comes in baskets is brilliant, that’s my number 1 rule.
But if you don’t find baskets so thrilling that you’ll eat anything out of them, you’ll probably still enjoy the fish and chips here. I don’t actually like the batter that fish is cooked in. I often eat the crisp ends and then peel off the rest to get at the flakes of steamed fish. But I ate half of this battered fish without feeling a bit sick of fat and flour, then peeled away the batter to get at the sea protein.
Underneath the fish were the chips. They were double crunchy (seriously, they crunch twice when you bite into them) and I loved them. They are fat and they are good. On the side was also a heap of mouth-coating mushy peas and a jug of tartare sauce, which I found a bit creamy, although I managed to make my way through a lot of it.
Bellerina’s roast compromised of 2 thick slices of bloody roast beef, a giant Yorkshire pudding, a handful of goose fat roasted potatoes, gravy and some pile of vegetables that I completely ignored. Because she is nice, she let me taste some of it (while I only allowed her 1 chip. I’m a bad friend).
The beef was tender and juicy and the meaty, full-flavoured gravy is the best I’ve had in London in a long time – better than Hix’s. The Yorkshire pudding looked a little too overcooked, but it managed to be crisp and claggy like a good Yorkshire pud. And being so enormous, it held a lot of gravy. It was a big batter bowl where a reserve of gravy could be kept warm for a final lap around the plate.
The potatoes, however, were disappointing. Fluffy perfection on the inside, leathery nightmare on the outside. I think they’d taken the indignity of being kept waiting until 4pm badly and decided to punish us by toughening up. The horseradish cream was also a bit too much cream and not enough horseradish. There was a whiff of challenging dessert about it.
We’d ordered 2 Maldon oysters, theoretically to start with but the kitchen was so keen to get our hot food out to us, they arrived at the same time. We saved them till last and they were like chewing on the sea.
We were offered dessert, but we opted for 2 glasses of Madeira instead. The bill, which included a pint of Old Engine Oil for Bellerina and a service charge, came to £38.17 – the roast on its own is £10.50. I left the Fox and Anchor happy and sated and I have a feeling that the Barbican is going to get a lot more custom from me, just so I can eat around the corner.