Outstanding Winter Menu at The Anchor, Hullbridge
Outstanding food with outstanding views…
One of these days, ‘The Anchor Cookbook’ is surely going to come out, in the same self-titled vein as say, The Fat Duck, The River Café or Ottolenghi. Our reasoning for this is simple; during his tenure, The Anchor’s head chef, Daniel Watkins, has been consistently turning out plate after glorious plate of beautiful food, all very much delivered in his own unique style. Some of his more eagle-eyed fans (check out his huge Instagram following) may have already spotted his recipes in some smaller publications, but we are still waiting for the definitive tome. Thankfully, in the meantime, we can get on with the business of simply eating his delicious creations. If you haven’t been to The Anchor, fantastic menu aside, the best thing to highlight is the location. Overlooking the River Crouch, this gastropub offers some stunning views, with glorious scenes that change from season to season. Staff are welcoming, personable and the whole place runs on a quiet buzz of bonhomie and charm. There is a real sense of fun and celebration amongst the diners here. It’s no wonder then that people return time and time again. Perhaps that cookbook can wait. We’re quite happy as it is.
Cured Fjord Trout, Miso & yuzu mayonnaise, nashie pear, cucumber – £7.00 (special)
In some ways, as a food lover, you shouldn’t really have a favourite restaurant. The industry is booming, with new venues opening constantly and opinions changing daily. However, having visited The Anchor several times throughout the year, it’s hard to suppress a giggle of excitement as Mrs Exquisite and I book ourselves in. And, as usual, we weren’t let down! The Christmas menu had just been launched, so it was decided that at least one of us should get festive. After spotting an interesting looking combo of whipped goats cheese and pumpkin jam, I volunteered to be guinea pig. Intense and sweet, the consummate pairing really worked, as the tangy, saccharine flavours played off each other perfectly. Mrs Exquisite, by contrast, went for a cleaner sounding starter; delicate slices of cured trout with crisp textures and citrus undertones. The puffed, charred corn that accompanied the dish was a great surprise. For mains, I ordered the pork belly, accompanied by swiftly fried sages leaves and a fantastic jus - but it was the bubble and squeak that really blew me away. This should be served singularly or sold in jars, everywhere! Mrs Exquisite’s main course was intriguing, some braised beef shin hidden from sight underneath a riot of cabbage leaves and Parmesan. Framed by a shimmering, verdant sauce, it looked amazing and tasted equally great. The themes of artistry and gusto continued into dessert, although Mrs Exquisite’s set chocolate custard, dusted with a touch of sea salt and served alongside a blackberry sorbet, just about nudged in front of my gingerbread crème caramel. But only by the thinnest of slivers. Another triumph.