The Anchor & Hope has been operating since 2003 at the quiet end of The Cut, near the Young Vic theatre. It has a casual atmosphere, half of the room dedicated to dining and the other half available for drinkers, with the dining area having the usual wooden floor and bare tables, with café chairs. There were a few tables outside on this sunny day. The wine list started at £13.40 and had wines such as Vinha Da Palestra 2008 at £20.50 for a wine that retails at £6, Pinot Blanc Josmeyer 2010 at £36 compared to a shop price of £11, up to the excellent Mas de Daumas Gassac 2005 at £55 for a wine that will set you back £29 to buy. Bread came from St John Bread and Wine, and was fine.
I began with a terrine that contained chicken liver and pistachios, and was rustic in texture and served with cornichons. It was simple but pleasant (12/20). My companion ordered grilled razor clams, which were very chewy indeed, served with a chilli and garlic sauce that could not disguise that it was tough to even cut through the clams. It doesn’t have to be this way (I had superb razor clams of the non-chewy variety at Kitchin, for example) and my companion, who is a keen cook and often cooks with razor clams, felt they were of poor quality (10/20).
Slip soles were the best dish of the meal, in this case seemingly quite fresh and accurately cooked, served with a simple vermouth sauce flavoured with parsley, seasoned quite boldly (13/20). My duck leg was served with bacon, peas and mint. The duck itself was slow-cooked and reasonably tender, though stringy in texture in places, though the vegetables with the duck (carrots and peas) were distinctly overcooked to the point of mushiness (11/20). On the side we ordered some greens that were undercooked but also virtually cold when they arrived (8/20), pleasant new potatoes (12/20) and some lentils. The latter were simply unpleasant, waterlogged and overcooked (6/20). For dessert my lemon pot with cassis was refreshing if a bit too tart (12/20), but a plum and almond tart pastry that was visibly burnt, and not surprisingly was hard and dry (10/20). The ice cream with it was made from scratch, but had little vanilla flavour.
Service was, not to put too fine a point on it, bad. I have low expectations of service in a pub, but the service today failed not only to jump over this low bar but didn’t even come close to trying. Remembering who ordered what dish is easy enough and many pubs do, but I didn’t mind that they didn’t here. Delivering the main course with cutlery should surely be within our waiter’s capabilities though? Once we finished the main course the dirty plates were left on the table, then left, and then left some more. It took two attempts of calling a member of staff over before they were finally taken away, showing no concern at all at the virtually untouched dish of lentils. At this point our waiter asked what we wanted for dessert despite not having given us a menu. He then brought over a menu that had been partly scrunched up and had something spilt on it. It is some time since I have encountered service at such a dismal level.
The bill came to £35 a head for lunch, with soft drinks only. The food element of this was £31.50 each for three courses, significantly more than is charged at, say, Gauthier (£25 at lunch at the time of writing). I know where I would rather have eaten. While the food scores average around 11/20 this was a disappointing experience overall. Despite its reputation this is actually the fourth time I have eaten here over the years, and have yet to have a consistently good experience. I will not be trying again any time soon.