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Anchor & Hope, Waterloo


SarahL
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Hello all - just a general query about whether the Anchor and Hope's table policy (or rather, lack thereof) is a common thing or generally accepted to be reasonable? I only ask because on my first visit there on Thursday, I never actually got the chance to sample the food.

A phone call in advance had confirmed what I already thought - that they didn't take bookings - and so I arrived promptly with my parents at 6.15. We asked about table availability and were told that we could go in any time we liked. But, we pointed out, we were waiting for my husband, who was due in an hour; could we leave our names and have drinks in the bar until then? No, we were told, it wasn't their policy to reserve tables; simply come through when the whole party was there. On the offchance, we enquired again at 6.45 and received the same reply: "there are plenty of tables, just come through when you're ready". My husband duly arrived at 7.15, at which point we went through to the restaurant and were told that we would now have to wait an hour and a half for a table - at this point, they *were* taking names. Since my parents had to get a train from Kings X at 10, we had to leave and hurriedly find somewhere else; not a happy experience, all in all, particularly when the three of us had spent an hour standing in a crowded, noisy pub, with no food at the end of it!

So I never did find out whether the food is as great as everyone says it is; it may just have been down to bad timing on our behalf. I just wanted to canvass opinion on whether everyone thinks this is a fair policy. It means you can't really make any plans, or you have to be pretty flexible about what time you want to eat; it also effectively means they have two sittings - one at 6.45-7 and one at 8.45-9. Why don't they just formalise the "system" and take bookings? I do still want to try the food, but I've really been put off by the whole experience.

I'd be interested to read your views.

Many thanks,

Sarah

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I've been three times without a problem, although every evening we were there it was busy. Whoever arrived first got a table, ordered a drink and waited for the others, which they didn't seem to mind at all.

I was initially concerned about not being able to book, but the flip side is that it's good to have some places where you can have a great meal without planning it in advance. I think it's nice to have a choice and I'm sure not taking bookings is one of the things that helps keep the prices so reasonable.

If you still want to give it a go, apparently weekend lunchtimes are usually quiet.

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I have had the same experience. Luckily I have always managed to get a table. I agree that it's a bad system.

On the issue of keeping the prices down, is the thinking here that they can fit it more sittings without taking bookings (because some people will be quicker than anticipated)? Does anyone know if this is a well-proven method in general in the restaurant business? What about the people who are put off coming by th elack of certainty?

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Yes - plus no need to pay staff to take bookings and keep track of them during the evening.

I agree that this might put some people off, but they have relatively few tables in a popular location so I could see them deciding that they could get away with it.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad system - just different, and quite well suited to the informal style of the place.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I went for lunch yesterday (Wednesday) and now I can see why it might be difficult for them to take bookings. There aren't many tables at all, and part of the appeal of this place is that it's not terribly cramped. Several of the tables are 'communal' ones that accommodate four or six or even more in a pinch. We were a party of two, walked in at 13h45 and were seated immediately at a large table that already had three people dining together. (We were asked if we minded sharing). Those people left at around 14h00 and two took their place, and nobody else came in after that.

If they instituted a booking policy, my hunch is that they'd have to turn a lot more people away because a large party would take up a whole table for longer than several smaller parties. At lunch yesterday there were only two waiters and one head waiter/wine bottle opener/manager type. They were all very quick, friendly and efficient . The place just doesn't seem to warrant anything more formal (at least not at lunch).

That said, I thought it was excellent and certainly very reasonable. There were at least six things on the menu that I would like to have tried. I had a whole mackerel with buttery braised fennel (I think?) and aioli, for something like £8. This same dish at St John would have cost at least twice as much. The bread and butter were good too, and decent wine selection - nothing earth-shatteringly exciting but several good options by the glass and carafe ((1.5 to 2 glasses per person). And they even have decent coffee. We emerged for around £12 apiece, including wine, mains and service. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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Went for supper Fri with Maggie and Moby. Good food and concept; particularly given tis south of the river :wink:

Dining room opens up at six and was filled in about twenty minutes. Most people from the first sitting seemed to be kicking out nine-ish, so that might be a good time to come if you're angling to get a table in the reprecharge. Don't know if they were taking names or not. Basically its the same system as used for dim sum - provided there's enough demand it means all tables will be in use all night, with obvious positive benfits for the profit and loss account...

Accordingly myself and moby used the usual dim sum excuse "yes the others have arrived; they're just parking the car" (ten minutes later maggie rings and says she's just got to waterloo...) :raz:

Starters:

- Deep fried calves brain, sauce gribiche. Creamy inside, crunchy outside. Perhaps the coating a little to thick; perhaps the sauce a little to strong for something as delicate as brain. Nice though - posh chicken mcnuggets

- Duck gizzard salad. Gizzards nice, tasty, warm; basically taking the place of lardons

- Terrine - very nice. Laced with prunes (I think) whose sweetness added a great deal

- Smoked sprats with horseradish.

- Snail risotto; a hint of garlic, but not as much as the fat duck porridgy version

Main:

- Whole slow-roast duck to share. Great dish in concept for sharing round the table, although the mean itself was overdone and undersalted. Skin very nice and crispy. Basically the whole duck turned up in a big deep giant cocotte-type dish in a bath of soup/stock with spuds in. Stuffed with two wonderfully livery faggots

- On the side some nice garlicy quail, a slightly overcooked duck-fat potato rosti, and another veg which escapes me

Pud:

- Caramel ice cream; really nice; right mix of bitterness and creaminess

- Rhubarb jelly went very well with shortbread

- Lemon (polenta?) cake - So-so. Moby liked this.

- Chocolate tart - ok; texture not perfectly smooth - more like a ganache than a cream inside. But good chocolate flavour - and a really great wafer-thin pastry

Bill thirty five quid each including a bottle of red. We stuffed ourselves.

Overall a good nick and good value. Honest food and the menu selection a little more interesting than the Mothership, St John - although I would say technically the quality of the cooking (eg the duck) a touch below StJ. Although would hasten to say that is up against some of the highest quality cooking in the Captial

Cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Accordingly myself and moby used the usual dim sum excuse "yes the others have arrived; they're just parking the car" (ten minutes later maggie rings and says she's just got to waterloo...) :raz:

Thanks for covering Jon :smile:

Seriously, on the subject of getting a table/sitting down without the whole group, whatever - the place is still new and possibly a bit wide-eyed about their popularity. They aren't yet tangled in their own red velvet rope so if you are nice and calm and not pushy, they'll be as accommodating as possible. Last orders (for food) are 10h30 though, I think they're missing the boat a bit on that...

And yes, we ordered way too much. Again the dim sum influence...

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- Whole slow-roast duck to share. Great dish in concept for sharing round the table, although the mean itself was overdone and undersalted. Skin very nice and crispy. Basically the whole duck turned up in a big deep giant cocotte-type dish in a bath of soup/stock with spuds in. Stuffed with two wonderfully livery faggots

- On the side some nice garlicy quail, a slightly overcooked duck-fat potato rosti, and another veg which escapes me

I like the idea of a couple of quail on the side -

Waiter - Would you like any side dishes with that sir?

Me - Yes, Can I have have some spinach, a green salad, and oh, go on, a couple of quail. And maybe a pheasant on top as well.

Meat accompaniments. The way of the future.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Although I'm reluctant to refute the Tseng, I rather thought the curly green sauteed stuff we were eating was Kale. I could be wrong though. It might have just been deboned, with a lot of green food colouring.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Although I'm reluctant to refute the Tseng,

refute the Tseng - release your inner Tseng Moby, visualise it, be the Tseng.

for what it's worth I have always thought, and this may not be applicable here, is that gastro pubs struggle to walk the line between pub/restaurant, and one of the easiest ways to stratify things is to not take bookings. No matter how sh*tful that might be to patrons. hey dude, pubs don't take bookings... that sort of thing.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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  • 1 month later...
Quick question about the A&H (this seemed as good a place to post as any) - do they serve lunch? I'm going to be in London for a few days soon and wanted to see what the all fuss is about.

all the fuss is about all the fuss, and not the food or place. i had lunch a few week-ends ago after reading a good article in restaurant magazine. i'm attracted to establishments which serve homely food; now when you combine that with the practice of serving stews in their cooking pot - now that i can't miss out on.

the food is nothing special. the cassoulet was quite bland, i wouldn't even say decent - and that was the main reason for me going there. nothing we had deserved the praise and accolades i've been reading about for the past six weeks - funny they claim no active PR - so to me an overall great disapppointment. the renovation/redesign of the pub is quite off. the windows installed are more appropriate of chain-pubs with green las vegas carpeting and miniature pool-tables than a traditional english pub.

for the three of us there, two of us big food critics in our personal time, it was not worth the hike over there.

-che

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i tipped up here about four weeks ago at 6:20, fought my way through the packed bar and was told they were full for at least the next three hours and were not taking more bookings that night.

the waiter helpfully told me that i could eat in the bar "if you can find a space" but given i'd already had contact with one male groin too many, i thanked him and i left. outside i comiserated with a woman who too hadn't got a table and who had had a lovely cigarette burn in her coat.

now i take the point that no booking might be a good way to differentiate between a restaurant and a gastro pub (i'd actually argue that a lungful of someone else's cigarette smoke is *usually* the differentiator) but i think that the a&h's management are being slightly disingenuous here. the place looks packed. so people think it must be great. however, if they keep turning people away they might find themselves a lot less busy after the intial buzz has died down.

i will not be going until they impliment a booking policy.

(god, am still surprisingly grumpy about this, am going to have some roast chicken to cheer myself up)

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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I sympathise. I was originally in favour of the no booking policy but having returned more recently I am less keen. We got a table after waiting in the bar for about an hour which would have been fine if it hadn't been so packed.

I'm kind of hoping the crowds will put off the less determined customers so I can return and enjoy the food in peace...

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  • 1 month later...

I think the rule is - for whatever meal you're interested in - go early. Or rather 15 minutes before early. Otherwise you have kick away the little people. :smile:

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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  • 4 weeks later...

We went to the Anchor and Hope for lunch last Friday. About 12:30 - maybe a bit later. Had to wait at the bar for about 5 minutes. Perhaps it was a short wait because it was a bank holiday weekend?

Had a fabulous lunch. Started with the "peas". I'd read about this starter. That's what it is - peas in a pod. Doesn't sound like much - but if you come from a part of the world where it's tropical - and you can't get fresh sweet spring (English) peas - then it's terrific.

My husband chose the better dish this time - lamb sweetbreads (we've have sweetbreads before - never lamb though) with various veggies (wonderful sweet carrots) and beans. I had the turbot. It was a fine turbot - but no competition for the sweetbreads.

Good Guinness on tap. My husband also liked the Bombadier bitter (it was his birthday - he was entitled to 2 beers for lunch :wink: ).

So I guess my advice in terms of a table would be - go on a bank holiday weekend :smile: .

For those of you who are tourists like I was - the place is a short walk from the Tate Modern. A perfect place to have lunch before a visit to the museum (don't miss the Hopper exhibit). Robyn

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That sounds like a great meal. I've found lamb sweetbreads extremely diifficult to get hold of amongst butchers and the Borough mkt lot. I was told (by the Herdwick lamb people) that the sweetbreads are so small, they're not worth it to extract. Also, they go off faster than the regular meats - so you were lucky indeed to find them on the menu. How were they prepared?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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