Gastropubs: The Garrison VS Anchor & Hope
Clockwise from top left: my lovely and succulent barbary duck; the view into the kitchen; Hunky's surprisingly delicous sardine and scallops on toast; the packed tables at The Garrison
The menu is certainly seasonal. They must change it very regularly as I tried to look up the menu online and it is totally different to what we had. There are also many daily specials written on the board. We ordered a few starters to share. Hunky's sardines and scallops on toast was really good! Like a fancy bruschetta but with a lot more bite to it. Al’s mussels cooked in saffron was disappointing. The combination of saffron with the not so fresh mussels was quite stifling. I ordered deep-fried marrow with bacon, girolles and spinach. Need I say more really? The outer crust was crispy and golden giving way to an almost liquid centre. It’s a good thing we were sharing it. It was incredibly rich. The main courses were even better. I thoroughly enjoyed my roasted barbary duck with savoy cabbage and pink peppercorn sauce. It was subtle, succulent and divine. Surprisingly, Hunky did not order pork. Instead he had the venison saddle with puy lentils. There were a lot of lentils and not much else. I think he was disappointed because he kept eyeing the braised pork with stewed apple and sweet potato mash. The pork was gorgeously moreish! The venison was really tasty and when paired with the lentils it made the dish rustic and simply gorgeous. He of course regretted he did not go with the pork which happened to be really good! It was comfort on a plate. The kind of dish you want to be eating curled up infront of the telly and its raining outside. Bliss. All in all, I would definitely go back again on my next visit. The only thing I have to gripe about is probably the lackluster desserts. Wow, the apple sorbet was really coarse. It was like eating cold coarsely blended apples. Not quite my idea of sorbet. Oh well, can't win 'em all.
Amazing pot roast of grouse served with a side of lentils and buttered kale
A couple of days later we met up with Hoots and Sam at Anchor & Hope. Its been awhile since I last saw them and now I remember why I don’t see them very much. I love them to bits but boy do they zap all the energy out of me! Anchor & Hope is pretty well known from what I gather. Perhaps the fact that they don’t take reservations is an indication of how well they are doing. All the websites warn of long waits but obviously people don’t mind waiting. We got there fairly early and the dining room was already full. We managed to get a table outside after standing round stalking people who looked like they were leaving. After 45 minutes of Hoots, Sam and drinks, we got seated for dinner.
The menu here changes daily and features lovely rustic pub grub. Stews, roasts and all the other gloriously comforting food. I normally avoid mackerel like the plague. A combination of early childhood culinary trauma and fishy fillets at Japanese restaurants. But Sam’s smoked mackerel with beetroot and horseradish was really quite superb! It was moist, flavourful and delicate at the same time. Hoots roast grouse was amazing! I’ve never had grouse before. For me was like a big pigeon. It was served rare which sounds a little scary but its not bloody like beef or lamb. Who knew? Sam had rabbit stew which was mediocre in a sense that it could have been any meat that had been cooked with tomatoes. Not very exciting. My roast pork loin which was the most popular dish that evening (mine was the last serving left) wasn't great. The meat was on the dry side and frankly lacking in taste. In hindsight, we should have ordered the roast lamb shoulder. It sounded daunting at the time as it was meant for 5 people. The problem was also that not everyone wanted to eat lamb. The table next to us ordered it and all of us salivated with regret. It was a robust atmosphere at the pub and that makes for great eating. I would definitely recommend either of these restaurants if you happen to be in the area.
Clockwise from top left: smoked mackerel with beetroot and horseradish; chopped Dorset crab on toast; lemon delicious pudding; roast pork loin with prune, celeriac and lentils
Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, London SE1 8LP.
Opening hours: Tues-Sat 12N-2:30pm / Mon-Sat 6-10:30pm / Sun 12:30-5pm
No reservations taken.
The Garrison, 99 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XB. Tel +44 20 7089 9355