Monday, 11 November 2013

The Sunday Roast Review ~ The Anchor

Visiting family outside of Cambridge meant we missed our usual lunchtime slot for the Sunday roast review this week and faced the challenge of finding a pub still serving a Sunday lunch menu after 4pm. With no reservation made, we were limited to the Wetherspoons and Eagles of the city and didn't hold out much hope for a winning roast. Fresh and gleaming white paintwork guided us like a beacon of light to the newly refurbished pub on Silver Street, saving the day with its all day Sunday menu and brand new riverside dining room.

For the entire year I spent studying across the road at Queens College I mourned the wasted riverside space that was The Anchor. Sprawling from the bridge at Silver Street to the crowds of punting stations at Mill Lane, the multi-level pub and riverside terrace was better known as a tourist (and sun) trap than for its food and drink. Now refurbished in the new managing company's signature shabby chic style, The Anchor is finally making the most of its stunning city centre location and pub atmosphere. Whilst still operating beneath the Greene King umbrella, the pub's new independently styled identity goes beyond the decor. Ales from local breweries no more than 40 miles away are served alongside an interesting range of spirits, ciders and a food menu showcasing local suppliers and an emphasis on provenance. With an impressive view of the river below from the best table in the house, the stage was set, we hoped, for a promising Sunday roast.


The food menu presented to us on arrival at The Anchor was a far cry from the pub's previous offering of mediocre burgers and lacklustre lasagne. Served until 9pm, we were pleased to see the Sunday menu featured a full range of roasts including Dexter beef, Suffolk chicken and Hampshire pork belly, plus a veggie option of Portobello mushroom and blue cheese Wellington. A huge chalkboard boasted the provenance of the chef's carefully selected ingredients and an extensive and varied wine list was on hand to wash it all down. We chose rare Dexter beef and roast Hampshire pork belly, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds and gravy. When our plates arrived, positively piled high and bursting with colour, our only complaint was the impact the flickering candlelight and low mood lighting had on the quality of our photographs. They sadly don't do the food justice... but the atmosphere was fantastic. As expected from the infamous native Irish Dexter breed, the delicious roast beef was the highlight. Expertly cooked and perfectly pink in the centre, the thick slices were moist and full of flavour. The roast pork - served as a tower of pork belly strips - was soft and tender, the meat falling away from each slightly crisp layer of devilish fat. Topped with batons of excellent sticky crackling, the pork was an excellent example of slow-roasted belly and incredibly moreish. 

The rest of the plate was very well put together, too. Hefty portions of roast potatoes were piping hot, soft inside and firm to the knife, but slightly lacking on the outside the crisp, golden quality and flavour we were looking for. Hiding beneath lashings of a fine, homely, not-too-sticky gravy was a very well-chosen and well-cooked selection of seasonal vegetables. We found generous portions of perfect deep green kale, shredded cabbage, sweet roasted carrots, with only a handful of diced swede cooked a little too al dente letting the side down. The homely theme continued with the trimmings; a fine Yorkshire pudding topped off the tower of meat, puffed up tall and filled with a gravy lake. The homemade horseradish sauce made us happy with its creamy, fresh quality and fiery kick and crunch of fresh, finely shredded horseradish.

The verdict: A very pleasant surprise to find a delicious all-day Sunday roast in a fine city centre location. Particularly impressive were the focus on top quality ingredients and the friendly, personable and professional service. 

The score: 3.9/5 (1 on the scale being absolutely terrible and 5 equalling roast lunch perfection). 

Price: £35 for two people including drinks (excluding the starters we greedily tucked into before the main event).

Where should we have our next Sunday roast in Cambridge? Let us know your favourite Sunday lunch spots in the city and we'll rate and review them! Tweet your comments and ideas using #SundayRoastReview to @TheMovingFoodie

Read last week's review: The Punter

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