mmm, pig snacks
Fox and Anchor
115 Charterhouse Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 6AA
- Barbican Tube Station (0.2 km)
- Farringdon Station (0.3 km)
- City Thameslink Station (0.7 km)
- Contact us:
2 Camden Walk, Camden Passage, London N1 8DY
berserkjohn7821: “was a brilliant pub and i was part of the owners family although it wasn't the best it made due sleeping on a inflatable sofa above every single one of you thank you for cherishing drinks in that pub while it lasted” more...
24 reviews of Fox and Anchor in English
Ho Chi Mi...
Fantastic bar with a lot of character – great selection of beers and spirits and really helpful bar staff.
I love the interior and that you can get your pint in a tankard.
I would also recommend the pork pies with Piccalilli. These are very tasty and the perfect bar snack.
I actually cannot find anything to fault this bar, for me it’s brimming full of character and style and is a true London treasure.
Please also look at my blog http://hungryinlondon.com/2010/10/fox-anchor-clerkenwell/ for more details and pictures :)
I was very lucky to be invited to Fox & Anchor as the food in this lovely and authentic pub has really challenged my (admittedly slightly snobby) view on British cuisine. Of course I occasionally enjoy a traditional Sunday roast, well done fish and chips are a real treat and British desserts are my guilty pleasure, but overall British cuisine has not yet made it into my top ten. With the exception of St. John’s Bread & Wine (I have not eaten at St. John yet) which has definitely introduced some very interesting and delicious British dishes into my – as I can see now - very limited culinary universe, I have not eaten much British food worth writing home about. As opposed to St. John’s Bread and Wine, Fox & Anchor is not fancy at all. It serves simple British dishes without any fuss and pretense and (to my surprise) I liked the result very much.
Having said all this, we made the mistake of ordering one non-British dish, the steak tartare, which was a disaster (very red light). But even with this single culinary catastrophe I heartily recommend this place to everyone for authentic, reasonably priced and delicious British cuisine in very appealing surroundings. In fact, this is the must-visit place for us Londoners with non-English roots to take our parents to when they come to visit.
We went on a Friday evening and a jolly crowed had gather already outside and in the front room of the pub for post-work drinks. When we finally pushed through the crowd we got to the small dining area at the back of the pub with a main room and some little side rooms and alcoves. The pub which is attached to a small hotel with 6 luxury rooms in close proximity to Smithfield’s Market has been serving food and drinks since the Victorian era. It has been renovated in 2008 but has retained the atmosphere of the prototypical English pub: dark wood panelling with an open fire place and mismatched furniture – all together very cozy. We had a lovely table in one of those little alcove and if this is not the perfect place for a date then I don’t know.
It was very busy and as a result the service was a bit slow over times, but the waitress who was responsible for our table was very friendly and gave us some excellent recommendations on what to order. Fox & Anchor are not cutting corners: even after everyone else is serving ciabatta or focaccia or whatever other kinds of fancy bread, they do not follow the fashion but serve traditional English white bread which actually was not bad at all.
I was very intrigued by the menu and I was determined to order dishes I either never tried before or only had in very bad versions.Coronation Chicken,(5.95) clearly is one of them. I know coronation chicken only from our lunch seminars at work where we usually get very bad sandwiches – and of all the bad coronation chicken is the worst. Coronation chicken has been invented in 1953 for the banquet at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the Fox & Anchor version was surprisingly pleasant. The cold chicken immersed in a creamy curry sauce with raisins and almonds was served on toasted bread with fresh green salad on the side and had very little to do with the sandwiches at work. This is how British cuisine gets its bad reputation!
Also for the next starter I had no idea of what to expect: Potted Beef with Piccalilli (6.50) turned out to be deliciously flavoured and tender cooked beef in a beef broth which tasted remarkably similar to the clear beef soup (Rindsuppe) that we love in Austria. Piccalilli, which I found out translates as ‘spiced mustard pickle’, is a relish with pickled vegetables such as cauliflower in a mustard and tumeric sauce. Very peculiar but not unpleasant at all, and it tasted lovely together with the beef.
As I have newly discovered my love for pies (I tasted a delightful chicken pot pie in NYC a couple of weeks ago), I was keen on trying the British version and Fox & Anchor did not disappoint there either: the rabbit, bacon and cider pie (13.50) was enormous but I did not leave a crumb behind. The golden flaky crust was light and breaking through it I got to the steaming hot filling of tender rabbit and small potatoes in a subtly flavoured but very delectable sauce.
Everything went very well up until the moment we sampled the steak tartare and chips (16.95). The nice waitress recommended us to try the steak tartare and we went along not knowing that we would be getting something remarkable resembling a Meat Bloody Mary. One could not taste the meat at all (which appeared to be of high quality) as our taste buds immediately got numbed by an explosion of Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Only the celery stick was missing.. If this is the British take on steak tartare then I would recommend sticking with indigenous dishes.
As you can imagine considering these more than generous portions I was absolutely stuffed but I was led astray by the outlook of a real apple and cinnamon crumble. And scrumptious it was! Steaming hot apple not overly sweet with a tinge of cinnamon and a light crumble on top with rich vanilla ice cream melting in is as close to heaven as a dessert can get you.
I was more rolling than walking out of Fox & Anchor but I was happy.
The decor of this pub is amazing. The pewter mugs are amazing, the fancy wine saving atmospheric cabinets behind the bar are amazing. Even the cutlery and crockery is amazing. Everything is served beautifully. But in the case of the food, this Gibbon sincerely believes the substance does not match the style. A greasy burger looked nice until picked up from its wooden serving platter, whereupon a murky pool of cooking juices were revealed. Then the chips - served in a dinky little cone on the side - tasted of FISH. Very, very FISHY. Gibbons like fish, but not essence of fish in dirty cooking oil...
I can't give this more than two stars because if you can't get a burger right - and you charge £12.50 for it - you don't deserve monkeylove.
I thought this was a great place, mostly because they serve beer in tankards. You don't get that often.
Like other reviewers, I wasn't blown away by the food, or rather the service.
Nice pub though.
There are two great draw cards for this classic gem of a pub. One is the food, the other is the style.
Let's start with the style- it's an old man's boozer with a bit more polish and pride. It's super tight and cosy, but perfect for a long afternoon with friends. Not too far from Barbican station, on a quiet street, it seems to get only traffic from those in the know, perfect for a hide out type of Saturday.
The food is ye old English fare, and don't with aplomb. heraty pork pies with blow your socks off mustard on a wooden board, pork scratching that are really softened pork bits (and so much better than the crunchy variety) pies large enough for an old fashioned wharfie, and the can't fail goose fat chips.
Sadly, I am a bit of an aficionado of those two English cultural peaks: darts and pork scratchings. I couldn't sniff out the former here, though they do serve ale/beer by the tankard which compensates somewhat.
The pork scratchings however are in a league of their own. It would be pointless drawing comparisons. Fresh, meaty and succulent, they draw you in like a swine-flavoured siren sensuously calling from the rocks of a future ruined by blocked arteries and coronary disease, but like a sex-starved sailor fresh from years at sea I was helpless to their charms. I almost shamed myself by asking for a portion to take home.
UPDATE It's not often I come back to a review to knock a star off, but in this case it's unavoidable I'm afraid.
After three of four visits to the Fox and Anchor I wanted to go with my wife for the proper three-course experience. We got there for 8 and ordered drinks, wine and a glass of real ale - so far so good.
The problems started with the starters, specifically some missing cutlery that was needed to actually eat the food, and we were also beginning to get that lonely feeling you get when an entire team of waiting staff seems to be studiously ignoring you.
With the main course we were served some stone cold mashed potato. After sticking his finger in it, the waiter aggreed and went away to find a replacement.
A few minutes later we tried to order some more drinks. My wife ordered a glass of wine. The waiter nodded, turned round and started to walk away. I tempted him back with an order for a glass of red. Again - nod, turn, walk. "Excuse me," now he's facing us sgain, "and some tap water please?"
Now if you feel like you're keeping the waiter from doing something more important while you order your drinks then there's something wrong, surely.
I tried to order another drink at the end of the meal - a whisky. They brought me a list. My wife ordered a drink for herself. The waiter left... and that's the last time we saw him. We had to find another waiter to order my whisky and reorder the other drink.
Now if you read my original review below you'll see I came here for lunch and fell in love with the place... but the service was a bit slow. I also wanted to come back for a proper meal.
Now I've done that, here's my advice: come here for a drink or for lunch. You won't expect great things, and you'll be very happy with a fishfinger butty and a good beer. Try a dinner and you'll realise that the Fox and Anchor's pretensions are way above them - if you're going to do gastropub, you have to get the gastro and the pub bits right. Especially if you're going to add an automatic service charge on to the bill.
The Fox and Anchor managed to ruin an otherwise great evening out, and for that they lose a star.
I love walking into a pub and seeing a huge jar of pickled onions on the bar. Then when my beer is served to me in a silver tankard with a glass bottom I begin to consider if there's any possibility of me permanently moving in.
And then when I sit down and find fishfinger butties on the lunch menu I begin to wonder if UK law allows a person to marry a pub.
Seriously this place is awesome. From the interior (lots of dark wood and glass and 'snugs'), to the range of quality beers (I didn't ask for the tankard they just handed it to me), and the brilliant brilliant menu.
To give you an idea the bar snack menu does not consist of Walkers salt and vinegar and Nobby's Nuts, instead it's the aforementioned pickled onions, or pork scratchings and Coleman's mustard, or cockles...Cockles!
There's an oyster bar with three (count them: three) different types of oyster to choose from, or you can sample some of the starters. Kippers maybe, potted beef possibly, a pint of prawns definitely.
I didn't have the appetite for a full main course but if I had I think the steak tartare would have won me over. Or maybe the steak and oyster pie...or maybe ham hock...oh bloody hell I need to go back.
The fishfinger sandwich was a thing of beauty though. I've never had homemade fishfingers before, but now I can never go back to crappy old Captain Birdseye. And they were made even better by the chips cooked in goose fat that accompanied them.
My dining companion ordered exactly the same thing and said it was "possibly the best sandwich she's ever eaten" and she's been on Masterchef so she knows what she's talking about!
Why not five stars I hear you ask? Well the service was a bit slow. Not a massive grumble I know, but I was on my lunch break so having to sit around waiting for a loan waitress to remember we were there was a bit frustrating but there's no way I'm letting that little gripe get between me and their steak and oyster pie.
You need to go, just please don't all go at the same time I'm there. Is that a deal? Good.
lordbulldog, 16 July 2008:
amazing review….home made fish fingers you say…. i have got to visit this pub next time iam in london!
Siany, 16 July 2008:
I think we should go for lunch here soon. :-)
I heart Fox and Anchor.
lordbulldog, 16 July 2008:
That would be cool id defintly come over and check it out defintly seems like a good venue for a qype party…..fingers crossed!
nikfry, 23 July 2008:
Chips cooked in goose fat, fish and finger butty, ooooh. I am now debating whether its whether its worth the train fare to London from Birmingham to just sample this menu. Hmmmm….
lordbulldog, 23 July 2008:
well i would be willing to get the boat from belfast to stranraer and drive to london just for some of those fish fingers hahahaha
Siany, 23 July 2008:
I considered moving to Clerkenwell so it would be my local…
arlene, 19 September 2008:
Brilliant comprehensive review… Perhaps the lone waitress needs another on loan?
I was really looking forward to going here. It was hot date night with Mr H, and after hearing so much about it (he's been three times already) I was desperate to go.
I shall not be going again.
Oh my god could the service get any worse?
Thankfully the food was good, but, I've had better for the price. I really enjoyed the starter. I had duck egg and rarebit soldiers. The egg was perfect, though they initially forgot to bring me anything to eat it with, but I let that one go. Mr H had the salt beef - he loved it. I didn't. It just wasn't my thing, rather than there being anything wrong with it.
A good variety of food on the menu left me spoilt for choice. I really wanted to eat a number of the dishes on there, and in the end I went for a huge steak and mushroom pie. I liked it but it was a little dry, there was not much gravy in the pie, and being a northern lass I like my gravy. We ordered carrots and parsnips, which were also well cooked, not too soft. We also ordered mashed potatoes. These were cold, so I sent them back. After telling the waiter they were cold he stuck his hand on it. I wonder, if he'd thought the temperature acceptable, would he have expected us to eat them? We got a new piping hot mash. Eventually.
Dessert was Eton mess for me. This was okay, but Mr H had a better third course. His choice of cheese and biscuits was lovely; it was a really nice selection of both.
At the end of the meal I ordered a port, to go with the cheese I was stealing from Mr H. He asked the waiter for a list of whiskeys. We got the menu but he never came back to take the order. This was the kind of thing that was typical throughout the night, nothing major happened, no-one spilled food on me or anything, but the service was just poor and inattentive to the point where it became really annoying and kind of ruined the night. Whilst I hate nothing more than waiting staff looming over you, interrupting your conversation, this was at the other end of the spectrum - we were more-or-less ignored. We were sat with empty glasses; no-one asked if we needed another drink. I managed to get the attention of the waiting staff and before I'd finished asking for another glass of wine, he's started to walk off without waiting or even bothering to ask what my partner wanted.
Being tucked away in the back dining room may have been the problem, but it shouldn't be an excuse for this type of service.
Also, when paying, the waiter proceeded to talk to other people at the same time, handing back the card and receipt with little acknowledgement. It was just rude in my opinion.
So, after being so keen to go, I was truly disappointed. It was a shame because the food wasn't bad but the service means I won’t be recommending it to anyone
The name of this pub makes me laugh, as I can’t think of 2 more unlikely items to come into contact with each other…but it works somehow.
This pub has 6 different real ales, most of which I had never seen before, including a couple from the Nethergate brewery (one sharing the name of the pub). Had a couple of them in a dimpled mug and they were good. They also have some pewter tankards here, but I’m not sure what you have to buy or ask to use one.
Although this place was refurbished not too long ago, it has a wonderful old fashioned décor and some lovely little intimate sections at the back. I suppose some would complain that it’s not the original decor, but I thought it looked rather nice.
The back part of the pub does seem a bit more geared towards food. It does have a bit of a gastro feel to it. Still I would recommend it for a pint or 2. They even have posh rooms to stay in if you happen to drink too much (and happen to be loaded).
Tucked away near Smithfield Market (indeed, near the Smithfield pub), there is a gem of a pub. But shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.
I am torn. Part of me dreads writing about the Fox and Anchor, as it’s such a wonderful and secret find, I’m afraid to share it, in case it should become inundated. It is a treasure.
I am a bit of a pub aficionado. I love real ale (despite being American) and traditional English atmosphere. The Fox and Anchor serves several real ales in pewter tankards (nice touch), including one of its own. You can buy your beer at the bar or one of the incredibly friendly bar staff (or even what seems to be the world’s greatest landlord - a young Irishman who clearly took landlording lessons from a master) will come and serve you with an actual smile. You’ll pay around £3.30 for a pint of ale, which is a tadge dear, but not unexpected for the Farringdon area.
The food is a bit pricy - I paid just over a tenner for a burger, for example, and a fiver for soup, but it is excellent. It is home made - my burger was requested medium rare, and lo - medium rare it came! Again, the food service is excellent. If you are eating, as you sit down (and there aren’t that many seats - it is a narrow pub, with displays of oysters and the carvery cart near the back of the main room, and then a bunch of snug rooms, including the stunningly signed 'Fox’s Lare’ - that spelling is theirs) you are given some very nice bread with stunningly good butter and a little bowl of salt to start - like I say, classy. My friend had a lamb and pea pie - the crust was freshly cooked, though the filling a wee bit runny (but tasty and obviously freshly cooked).
Apparently, the Fox and Anchor also does rooms - they have six 'boutique style’ rooms, ranging from £95 a night on the weekends to £165 a night on weekdays (and going up), but I’ve neither stayed in them nor seen them.
All in all, this pub should be held up to show how good pubs should be. The staff and landlord are amazing, the beer is well kept and immaculately served, and the decor is charming and old world.
Having worked in Farringdon for many years I was a bit apprehensive when the Malmaison Group took it over but I have to say that if anything its better than ever. Very much a traditional pub with good food and good Beer. Prices have gone up a bit but its always busy and the only complaint would be that that they occasionally run out of pies before I can get there.
Now that’s what I call a pub. Small snugs at the back where foor or five of you cen get together and put the world to rights over a pint of porter. Lovely pork pies and pickled onions, and the much-vaunted fish finger sarnies. It’s marvellous. The bar is long and thin, with apparently not much room inside. Squeeze your way down to the end where it opens out into the aformentioned rooms. You can stay all evening. I’ll see you there.
What a pub, read your reviews and had to visit,this place to me is a drinkers heaven,great ales, love the tankards,so much so my local brought me one, possibly to shut me up about how good the ale tasted from one,great menu, although I did find the pub a little hard to find,but was worth the effort, great staff, and a visit that will happen again and again, I thank all qypers who reviewed this pub for without you,I would have missed a great pub next time im there I will try the food, im sure it good,I was tempted, well reviewed by all.There is one small point I feel I must make, I will not be spending the night there,not at those prices.
This pub perfectly fit my idea of what a traditional English pub would be like, despite my limited experience aided by lots of tv sightings (hehe). The dark wooden interior is cozy and welcoming and the menu is great, with lots of traditional British grub that I wish I had had more time to sample.
I really dug the fish 'n’ chips. A lovely, crisp and sizeable filet and a generous helping of goose fat chips that did not disappoint after much anticipation based on weeks of 'oohing’ and 'aahing’ from Hinchcliffe. Great rec Rob!
I was also talked into trying a Scotch egg for the first time, with all eyes trained and expecting sailor-inspired curses and vile displays of disgust from yours truly. Surprisingly, I liked it! The burgers were getting lots of praise as well and looked oh-so-juicy so I’d recommend them even without having tasted. Lastly, those silver beer tankards may well be the coolest vessels from which I have ever had the pleasure of drinkin’. I felt like a pirate and almost started up a 'yo ho’ after clinking mugs in a farewell toast.
I love pubs that serve beer in silver tankards. The Fox and Anchor immediately get brownie points from me for this. Great selection of ales too, so every box is ticked on the drinking front. The food isn’t too shabby either. Very traditional and very british. Pies, bangers and mash, kippers, fish and chips… lovely. I opted for the burger, which was piled high and very tasty. Some of the other portion sizes around the table looked a little bit meagre, but i think everyone agreed that the food was delicious. Service was ok, but not breaktaking which is why, like Hinchcliffe, i am holding back on 5 stars.
All in all a great gastropub. Probably one of the best in London.
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