The Anvil has all the trappings of a typical English rural pub, and its food offering makes great play of being locally sourced, traditional fare – some of it with a distinctly countryside flavour.
Walk into the bar area and you’ll notice the chunky tables and chairs and plenty of pub fittings, ranging from signs on the stone walls to brasses, bottles and whisky jugs.
The bar area is the original blacksmith’s workshop; nowadays you can play darts where the smithy once plied his trade.
In the corner stands the original bellows (pictured) from the 300-year-old forge (it was a working forge until 1985), there’s a candle-wax waterfall running down a wall, and a 1950s American diner push-button phone hangs on a wall.
It’s a fairly spacious building, and through the bar there’s a smart restaurant area with stone fireplace, and beside that a comfy snug.
Ona late Saturday afternoon, we had the pick of the place and chose a seat in the bar, by a window ... another dozen or so people, all diners, came in within the hour.
There’s a reasonable range of starters, everything from duck spring roll and game sausage roll to ratatouille and haddock fritters, but we bypassed them and went for the mains.
Duck breast, wood
pigeon, Atlantic Cod, Torched Mackerel ... the countryside on a menu! But alongside are more traditional pub classics such as scampi, steaks, pie and burger.
My choice was the
chef’s special of the day, a Ploughman’s Pie.
As the photo shows, it came in a ramekin, with chips and wine gravy, but I would have preferred
accompanying veg, rather than having to pay for it as a side. Still, it was different to the norm, and tasty, the cheese lid hiding the chunky meat.
Another dish that would have benefited from a bit more on the plate was the pork belly (pictured), which came with oyster mushrooms, mushroom mayo, and a cider and rhubarb sauce. Wilted cabbage was the sum total of veg on the plate, and the meat was topped with pork “popcorn”. A side dish of new potatoes was required to fill out plate and appetite.
Happily filling out my son’s plate was a chunky, succulent piece of fish, twice-cooked chips, mini frying pan of pea puree, generous helping of tartare sauce and rocket. “Really good” was his mumbled verdict.
The desserts blackboard showed eight choices. We chose one pud, the rhubarb and custard – poached rhubarb, custard panna cotta, puree, honeycomb and rhubarb ice cream.
Eating at the Anvil isn’t cheap, but its rural charm and range of dishes might just give it the edge over some rivals.