Like a number of his Michelin-starred buddies across the land, Steve Drake decided to dip his toe into the world of gastropubs by taking on The Anchor – a “once-grotty but very ancient” brick-and-tiled town boozer not far from his auspicious eatery. Following a sympathetic refit, the pub now offers competent, unfussy cooking based on top-notch ingredients – think cured smoked duck breast with goats’ cheese mousse, hazelnut, orange and frisée, mushroom spelt risotto or South Coast plaice with hasselback potatoes, runner beans and sauce vierge. There are trendy snacks too (truffle popcorn, chilled gazpacho with tomato marshmallow), plus puds along the lines of Earl Grey pannacotta with cherry sorbet. Lunch is a tight little set menu, roasts headline on Sundays, and the drinks list features a decent selection of well-respected real ales and wines. The place is managed “supremely well” and service is “always outstanding”, notes one regular.
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