The Fox & Anchor takes its pub status seriously so it has a range of ales and lagers on offer. After all this is a pub that opens at 8am every morning in order to serve the meat workers from the nearby Smithfield meat market. Sampling a pint from the selection is the best way to start off any meal there. Despite working around the corner for a few years I have to admit, that I had never noticed this little pub before, tucked away next to the Malmaison hotel. The Fox & Anchor shares suppliers with Malmaison (although not, as rumoured, a giant underground kitchen) so the pub’s manager Scott claims the food on offer is a cut above the average gastro pub.
Roasted cashews and pork scratchings
The pub itself is small and quaint with a long zinc topped bar running down one side and tables snug against the wooden panelled walls. Things don’t seem to have changed much since Victorian times which is nice to see. I went for dinner there with three other foodie friends:Krista, Chris and Regina. Krista had been invited to try out the Fox & Anchor’s burger and had kindly organised for the rest of us to come along as well.
The menu offers hearty staples along with some gastro touches such as Maldon oysters and steak tartares. We started with a traditional pub snack of pork scratchings. However, the scratchings were flaccid and would have been more aptly named pork soggys rather than scratchings. The roasted cashews were a better option with a strong smoky flavour.
The pub offers five different home made pies. I went for the rabbit, cider and bacon pie (£13.95) was similar in shape and size to a rugby ball. It was of a size best devoured after a heavy day butchering carcasses at the meat market and I was worried that I could not do such a huge pie justice. The pastry was golden and crispy and the rabbit itself was tender but the pie was on the wet side with more sauce than meat inside. Chris pronounced his BBQ ribs (£10.95) as sticky but good. The ribs were coated in a sweet and sour style sauce and served with a cobb of corn and some salad.
The rabbit, bacon and cider pie
Fox & Anchor’s burger (£12.50) which was what had brought us in the first place, was a monster of a burger with a huge patty of meat. The manager told us the Fox & Anchor’s meat is supplied by Marrow meats or that they source it from the Smithfield market. Londonelicious declared the burger to be almost perfect, her only complaint was that it was a little soggy. This seemed to have been caused by the juices from the meat wetting the bottom patty which could only be avoided by serving the burger as soon as it is cooked. Gastrogeek’s fish and chips (£12.50) were served in an individual deep fryer basket which added a quirky touch. The stars of the night though were probably the duck fat chips (£3) which were thick cut and perfectly crisp on the outside while fluffy inside.
Fish and chips
Given the size of the meals we couldn’t even look at the dessert menu which was a strange sensation for all of us. While none of the meals blew me away, the Fox & Anchor is a good choice for gutsy, simple food. I left thinking that this would be a great pub to take visitors to London if they wanted to experience a traditional English pub and some old fashioned English cooking. Just avoid the pork scratchings.
Details: 115 Charterhouse Street, Smithfield EC1M 6AA (Ph 020 7250 1300) Tube: Barbican
If you liked reading this you might be interested my review of nearby Cafe du Marche. If you are looking for a good gastro-pub try The Pantechnicon in Knightsbridge.
Gourmet Chick received a discounted meal thanks to Krista.