Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Pub nirvana (almost)

If you could design your ideal pub, what would it be like? Maybe it would be set in a picturesque village, surrounded by green fields, with a river running next to it? Perhaps it would have a selection of real ales? Would it serve delicious food, the majority of which had been reared, caught and grown by themselves? Maybe their own smoke house? Wine and fizz supplied by their own vineyard? Well, believe it or not, such a place does exist.

The Anchor pub situated in the pretty village of Nayland, Suffolk is all these things and a little bit more. Just half a mile from the Essex border, Nayland is quaint and picturesque - think 'Lovejoy'. The pub aims to be as self sufficient as possible, having their own heritage farm. They grow the majority of their own veg in the kitchen garden which is next to the pub and keep longhorn cattle, lambs, pigs, game, trout and venison on their estate. They even work the land with Suffolk punches (which unfortunately are now an endangered breed of horse) These wonderful gentle giants are brought over to the pub twice a week - luckily we saw one working the day we were there. His name was Bruno and he had feet like saucepans.

Starting with a drink at the bar, Mike was impressed with the range of real ales and I was equally impressed by a glass of their own sauvignon blanc for £3.00. We then settled ourselves and perused the menu. I haven't mentioned yet that the kitchen is run by By Carl Shillingford (formerly of The Waterside and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris , both 3 star Michelin restaurants) Just gets better doesn't it?

The menu, as you would expect was very seasonal and quite honestly I had a difficult time choosing as there were several things I wanted to try. Well, as I wasn't wearing my 'comfort fit' crimplene slacks that day I chose just one dish from the grill menu, as did Mike. Scallops with chive and tarragon butter for me, and large black pork chops with smoked tomato compote for him. The dishes both came with 2 choices of side dishes, I chose 'thin cut' chips and a dressed salad and Mike chose 'fat cut' chips and grilled baby courgette and aubergine.

I asked the waiter if I could have my salad dressing on the side. "No problem madam". Well, clearly it was because the salad arrived dressed, well not so much dressed, but drowned. The poor leaves were covered in olive oil - my plate was swimming in the stuff. The scallops could have been warmer too and the chips cooked a bit longer. It was extremely difficult to catch someone's eye to point out the error, so when they eventually brought me a replacement salad I had eaten too many of the scallops and chips to need it. I was really stupid and should have got them to take the complete meal back, but I didn't and then regretted it, so my fault there. On the plus side Mike's meal was fine. The pork chop was big and tasted really porky and the chips were lovely. Again the veg was on the oily side, but tasty.

Although the food was a little disappointing the pub was comfortable, and in a lovely setting. There was a good selection of beers and wine and the staff were friendly. The prices, I think in particular were quite reasonable. Our food, plus 2 pints of beer, 1 glass of wine, a diet coke and a coffee was £34. I think it deserves another try and dressed in my 'eating trousers' I will return.


  1. I think the food looks great, but agree about the salad thing. I think all restaurants should serve dressing on the side so that customers can dress their salads as they wish. What a cozy looking pub though. Great location!

  2. Great review Jan, always on the lookout for places to try and this sounds like it could be a cracker, despite the dissapointing aspects you mention. I'll not this one down for sometime in the future when I'm in that area. Did you have to book?

  3. Loving the idea of a pub producing food from the kitchen garden, just a shame they fell slightly below the mark. Still sounds like its worth the trip though.

  4. Marie - Yes, it was a really nice place but we went midweek, I reckon it would be very busy at the weekend, especially in the summer.

    Dan - No, we went on a Monday lunchtime. It's definitely worth a try.

    FU - Thanks Dan. I think this was just a blip. We will go back.

  5. Definately worth a 2nd try I think. It looks so lovely. Time to invest in an elastic waist skirt dearie - it will come in handy at your (and my) time of life!!!

  6. I lived in Suffolk for three years and this is the kind of pub I wish I'd known about then (the fat chips look delicious).

  7. Food looks delicious, it is hard to find pubs with really good food.