Review: The Anchor, Burwell: ‘Exciting, delicious, attractive food in a cosy, old-fashioned pub’
- Credit: Archant
The Anchor in Burwell achieved viral fame recently due to their spectacular sharing Sunday roasts. But is there substance behind the style under new Chef Patron Stuart Drake? Mark Heath and wife Liz went for a Saturday lunch to see for themselves...
Like many people, The Anchor first came to my attention via social media – scrolling through Instagram, I saw some incredible pictures of the sharing Sunday roast on one of my friend’s accounts, and swore under my breath! ‘Holy cow!’ or something to that effect...
Swiftly added to my ‘must review’ list, I discovered the man in charge is none other than Stuart Drake, formerly a senior sous chef at Tuddenham Mill.
So, is The Anchor worth venturing across the Suffolk border for? Happily, I can report the answer is... yes, definitely.
First up, in these unprecedented times, you have to mention Covid protocols. There’s a one way system in place, and masks are mandatory while you’re moving around the pub. Our waiters, too, were masked.
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Seen to our table – trusty hound in tow - The Anchor is dog friendly – we ordered up a couple of pints of Amstel (£3.90) and began the usual back and forth menu dance. I plumped for the three course set lunch while Liz, a little more fussy when it comes to food, decided to order the tempura squid off the ‘small plates’ selection as her starter, with the Suffolk beef burger for main.
First up for me was the Birchwood smoked pig cheek, served with sweet cucumber, mushroom ketchup and crispy onions. Lordy, what an introduction to The Anchor. It looked great - as one would expect from Drake’s kitchen – but ate even better. The meat just flaked apart under my fork’s touch, while the onions, ketchup and cucumber worked perfectly with it too – smokiness, crunch from the onions, umami from the ketchup and sweetness from the cucumber. There was plenty of it too – a cracking first dish.
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For Liz, while her squid was tasty – light, crunchy batter and well-cooked squid, not at all chewy, as it can so often be – it was more of a sharing dish. To be fair, it’s not sold as a starter – but something to keep in mind if you’re ordering off the small plates offering.
Main event time next. For me, flat iron steak, chimichurri, pecorino-coated chips and sweet onions. The menu told me it would be served pink – as such a cut should be – and it certainly was. Some might find it a little too pink, but if that’s you I suggest you don’t order it!
The steak ate and cut well – no steak knife needed – and the chips were a crunchy, fluffy triumph. The chimichurri and onions added some delicious, classic complementary flavours too.
Across the table, burger connoisseur Liz was enjoying her meaty offering. A red onion Suffolk burger, served with smoked applewood cheese, maple and smoked bacon relish, salted plum tomotoes and fries. The only problem was it was too hefty to eat – but when she worked out how to tackle it, it scored very highly on the Heath Burger Scale (TM).
A pink patty, juicy and full of flavour, on a nice soft bun and teamed with what is easily the best bacon jam we’ve ever encountered, boasting tremendous chunks of porky goodness. As we said to our waiter, if The Anchor put that in jars and sold it over the bar, we’d have bought at least two. It was that good.
Onto dessert, and the finale of my three course set lunch – sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch and vanilla ice cream.
We decided to share and boy, what a way to finish. I said the bacon jam was the best we’d ever had, and this was potentially the best sticky toffee pudding too.
Sure, it was sweet, rich and indulgent – like any STP should be – but the inclusion of the butterscotch added an extra level of magnificent molasses-like caramel flavour which was an absolute joy. A great meal, at what looks sure to become very much a favourite on the regional food scene. A range of beers, wines and soft drinks – plus a plenty of cocktails, gins and liqeurs.
I also enjoyed the fact that our water was served in proper, cut glass crystal glasses. That’s a nice, classy touch. As previously mentioned, our waiting team were all masked up. Plenty of friendly chat and smiles too – as far as I could tell!
There’s a decent-sized car park at the rear of the pub.
I’d imagine you’ll be ok at all but the busiest – sharing roast Sundays – times.
Exciting, delicious, attractive food in a cosy, old-fashioned pub. Can’t wait to see what Drake does over the next year or so! 8.5/10.