Sitting proudly on the corner of Hayfield and Polstead Road is the Anchor Pub. The gleaming gold sign is a beacon to anyone looking for good food and a great pint of cask ale.
This award winning pub features in the Good Pub Guide and Michelin Guide for 2013 as well as the Bib Gourmand Award for good food at reasonable prices so I had to try it out.
We were a large group of eight adults, three children in highchairs and a baby so a challenge for any place to cater for. The Anchor hosted us brilliantly. We were given a private dining area with a large glass door which meant we still felt part of the main eating area but had some privacy too.
Outside there's a small courtyard area with tables and chairs which would make a pleasant spot to enjoy your tipple of choice on a warm day.
Inside The Anchor has been tastfully rennovated. They have retained the charm of the old wood pannelled bar and 1930's doors but it also has a warm modern feeling with some walls painted in a dark red.
There's an open fire in the Oak Bar and comfortable seating. This would make a lovely place to position yourself on a cold winter's day with the Sunday paper and a pint of cask ale. With CAMRA approved ales from Wadworth you'll know you'll get a good pint here. How about a little Bishop's Tipple or a seasonal ale like Wight Christmas. If you're feeling peckish they have a selection of bar snacks including toasted nuts and bombay mix.
The head chef at The Anchor is Jamie King. With a wide level of experience he has trained under Henry Harris and progressed to head chef at various establishments around Oxfordshire, including the Star Inn at Sulgrave which received a star from Egon Ronay. Now, Jamie and his team use their talents to deliver a mouth watering menu and tasty meals at The Anchor.
I had the Smoked and Organic Salmon Fishcakes with a mixed salad, chips and tartare sauce. They where full of flavour, moist on the inside with a lovely crunchy coating. So many gastro pubs serve big thick cut chips that it was lovely to have the change of thinner chips. They're obviously cut from the potato as the ends have the skin on and I would could have done with a few more as my toddler quickly demanded most of them.
With a large group eating, I had the chance to see a selection of the other dishes from the Corn Fed Chicken with Chorizo, Pepperonata, Basil and Polenta, Anchor Burger, Grilled Rump Steak sandwich and the Centre Cut Rump with Roquefort butter. All the meals received a thumbs up and all plates were totally clear by the end of the meal. They also have a children's menu and my rather picky toddler cleared his little people's meal of cocktail sausages. The children's menu also includes chicken fillet and fish cakes.
The Anchor Burger with Cheddar, Vine Tomatoes, Onion Chutney & Chips
As main course was so good we had to have a pudding. My passion fruit tart was rich, sweet and creamy. The slightly spicy pineapple salsa with the juicy pop of pomegranate seeds and Malibu Creme Fraiche on the side was a prefect accent. The treacle tart with ginger cream and hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream all looked delicious too and were quickly devoured.
Passionfruit Tart with Malibu Creme Fraiche & Pineapple Salsa
The Anchor also has a community feel. They have a Breakfast Club on Friday mornings during term time where you can enjoy coffee and croissants between 9am and 11am. If you're doing the school run nearby then this would be a great idea after dropping off your kids.
They also have the Anchor Book Club which is free of charge and open to new members. The club meets at 7:30pm on the second Monday of each month with the treat of the author visiting to discuss the book of choice.
The Anchor has the benefit of not feeling like a child themed pub but being family friendly at the same time. We were really well looked after, with the kids meals being ordered, cooked and brought to us in advance of our own meals. They also have plenty of high chairs and baby changing facilities. It can be almost impossible to park in this area of Oxford but if you're lucky you'll be able to take advantage of The Anchor's car park.
I can't believe I haven't visited The Anchor before now and will definitely be back again.