As happened with Pho, every so often it suddenly dawns on me that although I frequent places nearby, delighting in and raving about them to everyone within earshot, I’ve failed to write about them on here. I wrote about Pho and have hopefully encouraged some of you to try it out for yourselves, and now I intend to redeem myself in similar fashion with the Fox & Anchor in Farringdon – the all-too-regular haunt of mine which has thus far been overlooked on my blog.
I’ve been coming to the Fox & Anchor (F&A) for the past 4 years since I joined my company located around the corner. About 3 years ago the F&A underwent a rathery hefty refurbishment. Established in 1898, the F&A has been a landmark pub serving the butchers and traders of neighbouring Smithfield Market for the past 113 years. It’s probably due to that heritage, and it’s locality to an abundance of fresh meat, that means the F&A has some of the greatest pub food I have ever eaten.
The refurbishment it must be said has altered the F&A somewhat now. The blood-splattered white coats of the butchers has been replaced by the Saville Row suits of the City worker as on almost every evening the F&A is teeming with local office workers and City types that are in search of a pint of fine ale and some decent grub to make a refreshing change to the oysters and over-priced wine you find further inwards of the Square Mile.
I regularly elbow my way through the hoards at the F&A for one reason, and one reason only; the pork scratchings. Oh my days!…..I cannot get enough of them. I crave them, I dream about them, I eat FAR too many of them. They are not pork scratchings as you may immediately imagine – I can’t think of anything worse than the sorts of hairy scratchings you normally get served up in pubs – the F&A’s scratchings are basically large chunks of slow fried pancetta, served in a ramekin dish with a small dish of English mustard for dipping. They are so delicious. I have been known on occasion to simply turn on my heels and leave when I’ve been informed upon my arrival that they have sold out of the scratchings. If you go, you must have them.
They serve a mighty fine Malbec in there also which is another draw for me, but really the appeal of the F&A to everyone around is the food. Big, hearty, generous portions of pub classics like bangers and mash, burger and chips, beer battered cod, mutton shank, steak tartare, steak & oyster pie….etc etc but of a vastly superior standard to the average boozer. They produce some of the most impressive pub food in London, without a shadow of a doubt.
My friends and I popped in there the other evening for a bite to eat after work. It being the hottest/sunniest day of the past 2 weeks we wondered whether we’d chosen the right place to come when everyone fancied a light bite and some crisp, dry white wine. F&A is one of those places that’s always been great for long winter evenings. The dark mahogany and brass fittings and menu packed with hearty comfort food welcomes you in like a warm embrace within which entire evenings can be lost. We weren’t so sure it was the ideal place for a summer’s evening. We were mistaken.
A word of advice, if you’re going with a couple of friends, or clients where you’d like to dine and converse in relative privacy, ask for one of the private booths in the back-room when you book (and you will need to book, unless it’s a weekend). They don’t cost any extra but they are quiet, private table spaces where you feel like you can hunker down for a few hours only being disturbed by the occasional waiter popping in to check you’re ok and if you need more scratchings (the answer to which should always be yes).
I can’t rave about the F&A enough, I really can’t. I feel so lucky that it’s my ‘local’ from work. It’s a great place to hang out with some friends or equally to take clients that are a bit more down to earth. I’m assured that the beers and ales are of a high standard and I can vouch for the wines. But the food…..Oh! the food. Next time you want ‘pub grub’, head to Farringdon and treat yourself.