Anglo, London: restaurant review
Does an average diner reach the same conclusions about restaurants as a food pro, who may get special treatment if recognised?* Adam Coghlan and olive reader Laura Crosbie compare notes on Anglo
Adam Coghlan is a food and restaurant writer based in London. He is also the head of content for the London Restaurant Festival. He has a weakness for Worcestershire sauce crisps.
Laura Crosbie lives in London and works in banking. She eats out 2-3 times a week and loves Japanese food (but also has a soft spot for corn dogs).
Mark Jarvis, previously head chef at The Bingham in Richmond, is the man behind Anglo, a new modern British restaurant on Farringdon’s St Cross Street. During the day, a weekly-changing menu includes carefully constructed plates of three ingredients or fewer, such as bitter endive with palm sugar and pound cake crumbs; girolles with barley and summer truffle; and refreshingly simple bowls of new potatoes with smoked butter, or purple sprouting broccoli with pickled shallots.
In the evening it becomes a one-option-only seven-course menu (with introductory courses) which also changes regularly. Again, each dish is usually a trio of ingredients – cod with smoked potato and sea fennel; cherry with horseradish and hay; and Swaledale lamb with lettuce and spruce. Service is low-key and the room itself is modestly decorated. The real pizazz is in the food, after all. anglorestaurant.com
Our pro says...
It’s safe to say that Anglo has opened completely under the media’s radar. So, as might be expected, the service is low-key, non-intrusive and refreshingly modest. *I wasn’t recognised.
Only a maître d’ and one (unflappable) waitress meant some dishes were delivered to the table by the chefs, which, since there was no open kitchen, meant the usual barrier between creator and consumer was broken down. If the menu was divided into two stages, the first outshone the second; the pacing between the final few courses was haphazard.
Mark Jarvis and deputy Jack Cashmore’s food is some of the most ambitious and delicious I’ve eaten in London this year. In style, Anglo belongs to a generation of British restaurants whose chefs take cues from North America and Scandinavia without forgoing the fundamental requirement of presenting proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates with thrilling amounts of flavour and requisite levels of umami.
The first thing we ate – cep with English peas and cured egg yolk – was a savoury masterpiece. Deliciously sweet pieces of lobster with oyster emulsion then amused our bouches. Both dishes were as imaginative as they were well executed.
There followed cod delicately poached in vanilla with smoked potato, squid ink, roe and sea fennel: the standout dish. A similarly inventive pre-dessert of cherry with horseradish raised eyebrows only until we recognised how uncannily the two flavours co-existed on the palate. Elsewhere, there was lamb (rump, belly and a ragout of offal) with aubergine and apricot – the only plate that lacked cohesion; and a rich chocolate ganache.
Throughout there were countless instances of impeccable cooking, faultless seasoning and a daring but self-assured arrangement of seasonal flavours and textures.
Our punter says...
We received a warm reception at this small, simply decorated restaurant on a quiet London side street. Both chefs made frequent appearances and we were touched to receive complimentary glasses of sparkling wine – the waitress thought we were celebrating (we weren’t, but it was a lovely gesture nevertheless!). However, because the restaurant was half full, it did lack atmosphere.
Anglo offers only a tasting menu for dinner, which we found refreshing. £45 for seven courses plus introductory snacks and a separate bread course is extremely good value, especially so given the quality of ingredients. The wine list is small but well priced, with all bottles under £40. There’s also the option of a wine, cider and beer pairing for £25; having observed some other diners enjoying that option, we’ll definitely take it next time.
Initial snacks were innovative and a real highlight, from the umami-packed cep and broad bean dish to the burnt leek tartlet that dissolved in the mouth. The sourdough bread followed as a separate course, served with a yeast butter that had a texture of whipped cream and an addictively salty, savoury flavour.
Cod was delicate, soft and sweet, and matched well with the crunchy smoked potatoes. My favourite dish, the lamb, had moreishly crispy skin served with a rich offal ragout and some tangy apricots.
Our meal ended with a cheese course and three desserts, the highlight being the supremely rich, dense, dark chocolate mousse. All courses were well portioned, perfectly cooked and we left feeling pleasantly, but not overly, full.
The bottom line
Before we left we overheard the remark, “I’ve had many degustations in my life and this was one of the best.” In such an unlikely spot off London’s Leather Lane, I’m sure other guests will also be pleasantly surprised. And at £45 for so many courses, this is exceptional value for money.
Total for two, excluding service: £137
Food 8/10; service 7/10; vibe 7/10; total 22/30
You have to devote time to dinner at Anglo – for over 10 courses, you really do need three hours. Not one for a casual midweek meal, then. However, the superb quality of cooking, beautiful presentation and attentive but not overbearing service really does hit the mark, particularly for what must be one of the best-value tasting menus in London.
Total for two, excluding service: £128
Food 8/10; service 9/10; vibe 6/10; total 23/30
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