Anchor & Hope
36 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LP
In my smug and worthless opinion, worse than going to a bad restaurant is going to a good restaurant with someone who won’t have any wine tonight – because goodness! they’ve drunk so much lately, and it’s a work night! – and who, gosh! couldn’t possibly manage a dessert.
Tonight though, I am tipsy and stuffed and delighted to say I had dinner with someone as greedy and profligate as I am. Andrew, bless you. We went to the Anchor & Hope in Waterloo, a gastropub institution my aspirations would have me as a regular at, but in actual life this was my first visit.
We’ve gathered that I like wine (and particularly wine served in tumblers, as here), but I also like meat. If there’s weird animal or weird bits of animal or weird bits of weird animal on the menu, all the better, and the A&H is excellently uninterested in the fact some people don’t eat animal at all. Sadly, after the 45-minute wait for a table – though in a bar so life-affirmingly jolly it prompted merry exchanges with three total strangers – the deep fried pig’s head was sold out and I had to make do with new season garlic soup with snails and almonds. Silky and mellow though this was, it is a good thing Andrew and I are just friends.
Next, because I believe that for variety’s sake everyone at the table must order something different (I am a wonderfully easygoing dinner companion), I graciously let Andrew have the ve
nison, while I plumped for the chicken, potato and foie gras pithivier. The waiter, realising that I had no idea at all what I was ordering despite my splendid French accent, commended me on my choice of “the pie”, and said it was a special one, as it also contained pigeon mousse. Brilliant.
But while I won the main course round hands down – crisp, buttery pastry; sweet, velvety foie gras; big savoury bits of chicken; light birdy mousse – I concede that on dessert my buttermilk pudding was trounced by Andrew’s parkin… Gosh that sounds rude. Anyhow, not wishing to appear ignorant yet again in front of our waiter, he googled parkin before ordering, and for the benefit of those readers who do not come, like Andrew’s pudding, from the North, it is a sticky oatmeal, molasses and ginger cake, and this version at least was marvellous.
There was one final thing I noted about the A&H, in my post-wine, postprandial haze: it is unusually male. One doesn’t often spot boys-only tables at restaurants – apart from shouty birthday groups at curry houses – and more rare still is the sight of two male friends having a nice dinner and a catch-up on their own. But apparently the Anchor & Hope, with its HEAD OF PIG and its BEER and its BLOOD RED WALLS is a place where men feel safe to eat without the protection of women. Baffling, but sort of cute. Bless men.