I know it may seem unAmerican and possibly anti-food to say this, but I’ve never been one for Thanksgiving. This partially has to do with my dislike of roast turkey, but there’s more to it than that — I don’t like being told when I should be appreciative of the people in my life or when I should thankful for my good fortune. (However, I do like Christmas, but only because I find its evolution into a spectacle of consumerism utterly fascinating. And I love giving presents. Oh, and gift wrap.)
Regardless of how I feel about the November holiday, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of postings advertising archetypal Thanksgiving meals around London. In fact, when Keith and I stopped by the Anchor & Hope for lunch, we were surprised to see a group of about fifteen sitting around a turkey and all the trimmings. After eavesdropping for a bit, we were able to determine that about half were expats from the States, and that they had specially requested the bird.
I had no interest in turkey, deciding instead to go with an item suggested by one of the gastropub’s waitstaff: the Arbroath smokie with cream and chives (£11.80). I wasn’t familiar with the smokie — it’s a Scottish whitefish similar to haddock — but the idea of delicate chives lolling about milky cream sounded too irresistible to pass up.
Let me say one thing: if you ever encounter this or similar on a menu somewhere, or should you drop in here for a meal, get the smokie. Its fragrance alone could have been enough to fill me up. It was heady without being intoxicating: layers of bracing lemon over the subtle waft of the chives, with the sweetness of cream floating under the fresh, clean scent of fish. To top it off, the dish tasted precisely as it smelled. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have pressed my nose against my plate, and lapped at it.
A few things to note:
- There are apparently several Anchors & Hopes/Hopes & Anchors throughout London and England in general, or so says my pal Dorian, who is British and therefore an authority on the matter. This particular Anchor & Hope sits on the border of the borough of Lambeth, about a block and a half from the Southwark tube (Jubilee line) and less than ten minutes walking from Waterloo Station (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines).
- Cuisine-wise, the menu is unapologetically English, with both time-honored and modern dishes. For example, Keith had a faggot, a very traditional meatball of sorts wrapped in cabbage and made of (mostly pork) offal.
- The Anchor & Hope does not take reservations, is very popular and almost always crowded. so plan your visit with time to spare. Keith and I lucked out by stumbling in as a table was wrapping up; still, we had a bit of a wait.
- Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 2.30, and at two on Sundays Dinner is served from six until 10.30 Monday through Saturday. The pub is open eleven to eleven Tuesday through Saturday, and five to eleven on Monday.
The Anchor + Hope
36, The Cut
London SE1 8LP
+44 0 20 7928 9898