The Fox and Anchor is tucked away in a quiet street just off the Smithfields Market. It is a traditional looking pub, with a dining room at the back. The food is hearty British fare, with plenty of meat dishes, suitable enough given its proximity to London’s main meat market. Lighting was distinctly murky.
The wine list was quite extensive given the pub setting, and included enough up-scale wines for its City clientele. There were some wines under £20 but the list is mostly more ambitious than this. You can find modest wines such as Mendoza Argento Pinot Grigio 2010 at £21.50 for a wine that costs £6 in the shops, but also far grander choices: on the list a misspelt Katnook Odyssey 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon was an oddly specific and expensive £102.45 for wine you can buy for £23 retail, and Chablis Reserve Obedience was £148.75 for wine that will set you back £65 in the shops. We drank the pleasant Katnook Estate Founders Block 2008 at £29.95 for a wine that retails at £9. In general the mark-ups seemed pretty stiff, presumably reflecting the City location.
Scotch egg and curried mayonnaise (£6.50) was reasonable, with soft egg yolk and decent filling (2/10), but bear in mind this is more than twice the price of the dazzling version at The Harwood Arms. Deep fried whitebait with lemon aioli (£6.50) was served in a lettuce leaf and was a bizarrely mean portion of what is after all a very cheap fish indeed. This fish itself was prepared OK, and the aioli was decent, but this was more of a nibble than a starter (1/10).
Chicken pie (£14.95) was made with Norfolk chicken and leeks, and had a good pastry top; the chicken was nicely cooked and the filling well-seasoned, a good pie (3/10). Smoked haddock fishcake (£13.50) with sorrel sauce was also very pleasant, the filling having plenty of haddock and the outside coating properly cooked, the sorrel sauce not having a great deal of flavour though (2/10).
Rhubarb crumble (£5.50) had a ratio of crumble to rhubarb that was rather high, and the rhubarb itself was surprisingly light on acidity, but this was pleasant enough (2/10). What was not at all pleasant was the service, from the moment I walked in and discovered they had lost my reservation. The manager made a point of scowling at his (paper rather than digital) reservation book and saying “no, no-one of that name” not just once but several times, which was all rather unnecessary given that they had spare tables. We were eating fairly late, and when my friend arrived she had literally not managed to sit down before a menu was thrust on the table and she was asked “what do you want?”; well, a chair, for a start. The service continued in this vein, and although the dishes rattled through at a pace that would impress somewhere in Chinatown, this was obviously still not fast enough for the waiting staff. I was still eating the last of my main course when the manager tried to remove my plate, and as our dessert arrived a waitress turned up next to our table with a bucket and pointedly started to mop down the floor next to us, just in case we had not got the hint earlier. Bear in mind that this was still half an hour before the pub was due to close. The bill was £47 a head with a modest wine; service was included on the bill, a shrewd move I would say.