Photo credit: Ian Sargeant
Anglo opened two weeks ago, on St Cross Street in Farringdon, calling itself a modern British restaurant set to offer a 'casual fine dining experience'. Casual and fine dining aren't really concepts that sit comfortably together, so when Anglo's PR asked if I'd like to check out what they were doing, I agreed.
Photo credit: Ian Sargeant
Owned by restaurateur Mark Jarvis (Texture & Le Manoir among others) and with Jack Cashmore as head chef (of Sat Bains, repeatedly named best restaurant in the UK) Anglo makes much of its frequently changing menus to reflect seasonal availability, and they're unsurprisingly big on using quality artisanal ingredients. It would be fairly embarrassing not to in the heart of foodie Farringdon.
The lunch menu is a short - yet exciting - selection of starters, mains and puddings, but it's the dinner service where this place really comes into its own with a daily changing tasting menu of no less than ten courses for the frankly humbling price of £45. Here's what was on offer the night I visited:
I can't even tell you how great everything was, so I'm going to show you literally everything that arrived. Get ready. First, the beetroot crisp:
Now, scallop tartare and dashi (a kind of Japanese clear soup/stock). The prettiest dish you ever did see, no?
Burnt leek tartlet is up next, and amazingly this is on the lunch menu as a nibble for £4. You must get it as the name of the dish really doesn't do it justice; it's a perfect tartlet with a deep, dark rich caramelly base that is topped with what can only be described as bright green allium flavoured powder. In a good way! Very Sat Bains, says my husband who is jammy enough to have been recently.
Next to the table was the mushroom dish; the star of the show was billed as the St George's mushroom (kind of a big seasonal deal - the large whitish ones in the middle of the plate) but actually, the tiny mushrooms on the right blew them away. I still don't know what they are.
One of my favourite dishes of them all was the stone bass, below. Expertly cooked and topped with lovely monks beard (aggretti), it came with three of the plumpest, creamiest Cornish mussels ever picked and some lovely white asparagus. I would have been happy with this course alone.
Lamb time, and it's coming three ways here with a roasted loin, a braised belly to die for, and a sweetbread for those not with child.* It's served with sprouting hearts, wild garlic and some other divine little drips and drops. Spring on a plate.
Next there was a small recess with a grilled cheese on homemade malt loaf sandwiching a meltingly good onion chutney. One to try at home if only I'd made a note of what cheese it was.
To cleanse the palate there's a light, bright dish of fennel, dill, lemon curd and burnt white chocolate. Of course nothing except the incredible lemon curd bears any resemblance to its original ingredient, but unbelievably, it's not at all weird.
Finally, the puddings proper. Our (charming) waitress' favourite dish, chocolate, blood orange and yoghurt:
The cookie-like crunch of this dish was brilliant and the sourness of the yoghurt meant it wasn't overwhelming in its sweetness, particularly considering this was our ninth course. The same goes for our final dish - simply named 'rhubarb and custard', but of course so much more. There is often a tendency to counteract the innate tartness of rhubarb with too much sugar, but chef had this bang on and it was a beautiful end to an incredible meal.
As much as I love going out for dinner - and oh wow, I really do - I'm not actually one for tasting menus usually. There's often so much pomp and circumstance and the long suffering waiter having to interrupt your conversation to introduce and explain yet another tiny tiny course of something that actually should just be a normal plate of classic food is not fun for anyone, surely? I recently went to Petrus and that is the overwhelming feeling I got there and the bill at the end made me want to vomit.
But here - with food at almost half the price - I completely loved it. You can see that the dining room really is casual - no tablecloths, REALLY nice and friendly staff not trussed up to the nines, and there's only 40 covers. Add to this the fact that there's a genuinely interesting wine list (oh and loads of local craft beers if that's your bag) for non-scary prices and you've got yourself a complete winner. As a side note - we had an amazing kind of cloudy, dark rose wine that was only £6 a glass and like nothing I've tried before (pictured below, poorly).
My friend and I were so impressed with what they're doing here at Anglo, and we're definitely going to be coming back. It's worth it for their fresh baked bread and yeasted butter (yep) alone.
Thanks SO much Anglo for a fantastic evening. As guests of the restaurant we dined for free, but we'll be back as paying customers for sure. So should you. And FYI I only write nice things if I mean them :)
* In fact, you definitely can eat sweetbreads in pregnancy should you wish to; yes, they're offal but they're not liver. The reason for avoiding liver is the high vitamin A content which can be harmful, but sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreatic gland and contain 0% vitamin A... but the kitchen was being very thoughtful in leaving them out. I ate half of my friend's one instead and it was delicious.