REVIEW: The Anchor in Ripley
PUBLISHED: 10:49 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:02 17 March 2020
Having made its name under the ownership of Michelin-starred chef Steve Drake in recent years, The Anchor in Ripley is now being captained by two of his former proteges. Matthew Williams visits to see how they’re getting on
So it was that the students became the masters at The Anchor at Ripley, where Michelin-starred chef Steve Drake has stepped aside to focus his efforts on Sorrel in Dorking and his protégés, Mike Wall-Palmer and Dave Adams, have taken the helm of the award-winning pub.
Having been head chef at The Anchor since it relaunched in 2013, Mike is already a calming influence around the place – and he’s now joined by his friend Dave, who was also previously head chef at the Michelin starred Drake’s in Ripley (now The Clock House).
Featured in the current Michelin guide with a Bib Gourmand recommendation for its quality and value, The Anchor was also named restaurant of the year at the 2017 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards, so it’s got some serious pedigree.
The two friends are keen to build on this success and the legacy created during Steve Drake’s years of ownership, while adding more of their own ideas and inspirations to the menu.
Found just off Ripley’s beautiful High Street, which was once a thoroughfare for travellers heading from London to the coast and is now a highly desirable place to live, The Anchor is a centuries old pub with all the wooden beams, cosy corners and charm you’d hope for.
Having only taken control a couple of months before our visit, things already seem remarkably relaxed and well-oiled when I visit for lunch with my wife and daughter.
We can’t resist having a glass of Greyfriars as we settle in and it really doesn’t get any more ‘Surrey’ than enjoying a couple of bar snacks; Bombay potato samosas and tzatziki and Black pudding scotch egg and mustard mayo, and freshly baked sourdough bread with a glass of English sparkling wine! It works and the snacks are addictive.
While we crack on with the business at hand, our daughter sets to work on a beautifully-cooked piece of hake with skinny fries. We’re a little bit jealous as she gives us the double thumbs up. Not for long though as our starters arrive.
I’ve got the braised beef, beer battered onion ring and wild garlic mayonnaise – the mayo vividly cutting through visually and on the tongue. It’s a delicious dish.
Sylviane’s Potato waffle, soft poached egg, smoked eel and hazelnut catches us both by surprise, but it works an absolute treat with the gooey egg tying things together perfectly.
Next, my seed-crusted venison loin, red cabbage and celeriac is easily one of the best venison dishes I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.
Beautiful ingredients handled with love, and I can’t get enough of the hash browns that we have as an extra. They come with a parsley and lemon mayonnaise that is alive with flavour. Exciting touches that constantly spark our taste buds.
Sylviane’s brill, prawn mousse, saffron potatoes and smoked paprika sauce wouldn’t look out of place at the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden and it tastes as good as it looks. It keeps you guessing as the flavours wrap together in union.
To finish, the Jaffa with salted caramel ice cream looks stunning and its decadent chocolate mousse and zingy mandarin jelly work like a charm. Sylviane loves it, and Iona polishes off a child’s size version too. I get a spoonful and wish I could have had more.
Still, I’d champion my honey and white chocolate panna cotta with Douglas fir roast pineapple. Such a delicate plateful that packs unbelievable flavour into each spoonful. A gorgeous way to end a meal.
We’ve visited The Anchor several times over the years, for business and for pleasure while popping into the thriving farmers’ market or enjoying scenic walks along the River Wey, and so our expectations were high when we walked through the doors.
It’s a pleasure to say that from the way the staff happily interacted with our five-year-old daughter to the exemplary flavours and presentation of the food throughout, our visit lived up to all those memories.
This anchor, I think it’s fair to say, is only heading upwards and I can’t wait to watch their journey unfold.
Need to know
The Anchor, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AE
Tel: 01483 211866
What we ate
Snacks: Bombay potato samosas and tzatziki, £4 / Black pudding scotch egg with mustard mayo, £4.50
Starters: Braised beef, beer battered onion ring and wild garlic mayonnaise, £8 / Potato waffle, soft poached egg, smoked eel and hazelnut, £7
Mains: Seed crusted venison loin, red cabbage and celeriac, £22 / Brill, prawn mousse, saffron potatoes and smoked paprika sauce, £20 / Hash browns, parsley and lemon mayonnaise, £4
Desserts: The Jaffa with salted caramel ice cream, £7 / Honey and white chocolate panna cotta with Douglas fir roast pineapple, £7
Drinks: Greyfriars Sparkling Cuvée, Guildford, £7.50 / Allegory. pinot noir, Australia, £7.50 (175ml) / Envero Gran Reserva Carménère, Chile, £9.50 (175ml)