The Anglesea Arms is tucked away in a residential street near the Goldhawk Road, and for some years has had a reputation as a good gastropub; I first came here many years ago but had such snail-like service it has taken me until now to want to return; this aspect seems fixed based on tonight’s visit. The dining area is fairly basic, with no tablecloths, paper napkins and a view into the open kitchen. Bread is bought in from Boulangerie de Paris and the sliced brown bread offered had pleasant texture (4/10). However if you want more than a slice per person then each subsequent pair of slices is at a supplement of £1.50, which seems distinctly mean to me.
The wine list uses a surprising number of coloured fonts, but the selections themselves are sensible enough once you get over the “ooh I just discovered colour printers” feel to the list. Examples are Felton Road Pinot Noir 2006 at £59 for a wine that retails at around £21, Bodega Ostatu Reserva 2004 for £36.50 compared to a shop price of around £14, and Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2006 costing £41 for a wine that will set you back around £14 in the shops.
I began with smoked eel with horseradish and watercress (£8.95). The eel had nice flavour, the horseradish cream is a classic accompaniment, and though the watercress leaves were fresh they were not the most tender selection of leaves I have seen; the declared egg mimosa seemed to be missing in action (2/10). A tart of leek, onion, mustard and feta (£6.50) was an unusual and successful filling, suffering only from the pastry being distinctly overcooked (even charred in places) and over-salted, even for me (still 2/10 given the nice filling).
Halibut (£17) was timed quite well, served with good mash, nicely cooked mousseron mushrooms and beans (3/10). On the side, some “Jersey Royals” (£3.50) had good texture but had none of the distinctive taste that you normally get with this potato; if these were really Jersey Royals then perhaps a change of supplier would be in order. My Old Spot pork (£15.50) was distinctly overcooked, however, and had dried out. This was served with pleasant black eyed beans and tender greens (2/10 overall for the very good greens; the pork was not good).
The slice of chocolate tart had fair texture but a slightly metallic hint in its taste, which I suspect was down to the chocolate used. It was served with some decent raspberries and raspberry sorbet (£5.25) that tasted of the fruit but was rather too solid in texture (1/10). Service was a little slow at first but then picked up, and was perfectly friendly. The dining room was doing well on this Tuesday night; certainly the menu is appealing and the cooking, though it had slips, was certainly a long way up from normal pub grub. However it didn’t seem quite consistent enough to me; for nearly £50 a head with a modest wine, one dessert between two and no coffee I would have at least hoped for something better.