Hope and Anchor

September 24, 2016 at 10:42 am | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Did you know that Anchorage in West One Plaza is being relaunched? We’re talking a new interior, new menu and even a new name.

This was news to me, as a few weeks ago I popped into Anchorage for Sunday lunch and everything seemed normal, but then I walked past a few days later and the whole place was shut up, with a new sign hanging above the door. Apparently Anchorage is no more – say hello to Hope and Anchor.

I have to say, the last few times I visited Anchorage I wasn’t completely wowed by the menu. I initially fell in love with Anchorage for their amazing tuna niçoise, and a friend of mine still raves about the hanger steak Anchorage used to serve when they first opened. Sadly, both of these meals vanished from the menu at some point, and Anchorage never replaced them with anything that quite lived up to those two great meals – so perhaps it was time time for a change!

This post is going to be a bit different from the usual, as I was invited to a preview of Hope and Anchor’s upcoming menu, which involved eating lots of scaled-down, canapé versions of their mains and light bites, rather than ordering off the regular menu.  

I didn’t even plan on blogging about this event, but after going through all my photos from the night I realised this was actually a pretty good introduction to Hope and Anchor, so I wanted to do more than just share a few snaps on Twitter. Hopefully, these little snippets will help you decide whether you want to try out Hope and Anchor’s menu for yourself.

When we visited, Hope and Anchor were still midway through revamping the interior, but it was already clear that the new, darker colour scheme makes the venue feel much cosier. It reminded me a lot of sister venue the Wick at Both Ends, which to me has always felt like the perfect autumn pub. I can picture myself enjoying some mulled wine or cider in Hope and Anchor once the cold weather starts to set in.

hope-and-anchor

Hope and Anchor’s menu seems to be about providing as much choice as possible, as you can order every main course as either a fully-fledged main or as a smaller “light bite” if you’re not that hungry. You can also order any of Hope and Anchor’s light bites individually as a snack or starter, or you can order several light bites and create your own tapas-style spread (3 for £10, or 5 for £15).

Over the course of a few hours, I got to sample canapé versions of several of Hope and Anchor’s light bites and mains. While this means I didn’t get to try anything off the menu as you’d typically experience it, it did give me a good overview of what Hope and Anchor’s menu is all about.

First up, was a sample of one of Hope and Anchor’s light bites: celeriac pakora, apple and mango chutney (£3.50).

celeriac-pakora-apple-and-mango-chutney

Just a few weeks ago I had the best celeriac mash at Napoleons, so I was excited to see another place embracing my new favourite vegetable. Hope and Anchor’s mini celeriac pakoras didn’t disappoint, as they were packed with flavour. I also loved the accompanying sweet, sticky mango chutney which complimented the nuttiness of the celeriac pakoras perfectly. I definitely want to try the full-sized version of this!

The second light bite was bresaola, fig chutney, and hazelnut dressing (£5).

bresaola

I’d never heard of bresaola before, but turns out it’s air-dried, salted beef. I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion said they enjoyed the bresaola, although they weren’t overly keen on the fig chutney, which was a bit too sweet for their liking.

Onto the mains, and I got to sample a mini portion of fish and chips (well, technically just the fish part of fish and chips) which was served with pea purée and tartar sauce (£10.95).

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I’m not usually a massive fan of battered fish, so I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy this – turns out I loved it! The batter was light and grease-free, which is always a plus as there’s nothing worse than wet, slimy batter.

The piece of fish inside the batter was also pretty much spot on – tender, meaty and very tasty. This canapé was finished off with a dollop of pea purée, which had one of the most intense pea flavours I’ve ever experienced, and was all kinds of delicious.

When I’m handed a menu, fish and chips is typically the last thing I want to order, and even when I treat myself to chippy tea it’s all about the chips and curry sauce, hold the battered cod. However I enjoyed this taster of Hope and Anchor’s fish and chips so much, that I wouldn’t rule out ordering the full version of this at some point in the future.

The next main was one of Hope and Anchor’s veggie-friendly options: roast sweet potato, apple, brie stack, cauliflower and romesco sauce (£12).

roast-sweet-potato-apple-brie-stack

Unlike the fish and chips, this sounded like something I’d definitely order, but it actually turned out to be my least favourite out of everything I got to sample, as all I could taste was sweet potato. I struggled to find any hint of the brie, apple or romesco sauce, which was a shame because this combination of flavours sounds like perfection! It’s possible that this main just didn’t translate properly to miniature, and the ratio of ingredients was off, so I’d be willing to give this another go. 

Jumping from the veggie-friendly option to something that’s definitely not veggie-friendly: the rib eye steak and mushroom ketchup, which according to the menu is usually accompanied by chips, baby gem and roast tomato (£22).

rib-eye-steak-mushroom-ketchup

If you like your meat on the rarer side, then this steak was perfection – juicy, tender and very pink in the middle. The mushroom ketchup had a really earthy, concentrated mushroom flavour, which you’re either going to love or hate.

But I’ve saved the best until last: blackened cod with giant couscous and pak choi (£12.95).

blackened-cod

This was amazing! The blackened cod had a smoky, almost charcoal flavour that had me craving more from the very first bite, and was served on a bed of giant couscous.

I’m a massive fan of all things grain and grain-like: couscous, quinoa, rice, bulgur, orzo, I love it all, so I was always going to enjoy this. The person I was dining with is the exact opposite: they hate couscous, to the point where initially they didn’t even want to try the blackened cod. However, this taster completely changed their mind, to the point where they said this was something they’d choose to order!

You know a meal is good when it manages to win over someone who was expecting to hate it.

Looking beyond this selection of mains and light bites, Hope and Anchor’s menu includes quite a few other things that I can’t wait to try: goat’s cheese risotto; seafood linguine with market fish, shrimp and clams; rice pudding with stewed autumn fruits, and a baked blackberry cheesecake with poached apples. Don’t those two desserts just sound like the perfect winter warmers?

While it’s difficult to judge a restaurant based on what’s essentially canapés, I left Hope and Anchor convinced that I need to return and try the new menu properly. This menu seems like a huge improvement on Anchorage’s last few menus, although I am a bit sad that Anchorage’s Mac and Cheese burger hasn’t survived the transition to Hope and Anchor.

All in all, an exciting peek into a new(ish) restaurant, and I can’t wait to experience a few of my favourite canapés in their full-sized glory – starting of course with that blackened cod and giant couscous!

Anchorage: Spring/Summer Menu

April 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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I’ve pretty much fallen in love with Anchorage over the last couple of weeks following a string of amazing meals there.

On my last visit, I had one of the best vegetarian Sunday lunches I’ve ever eaten, and my friend had a hanger steak they’re still talking about weeks later. So when I heard Anchorage were releasing a new spring/summer menu, I had high hopes.

Anchorage’s menu is “East Coast” inspired, so the food has an American feel. They also offer a “build it yourself” meat and cheese platter, where you get to choose exactly which cured meats and cheeses you want. Doesn’t a bottle of wine and a build your own cheese platter sound like the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon? Yet another reason to look forward to summer!

But today wasn’t the day to eat cheese and drink wine, I was here to sample Anchorage’s new menu – and drink wine.

anchorage wine

Since it was early on a Wednesday afternoon, I was sensible and resisted Anchorage’s cocktail menu, but if you’re in the mood for a cocktail then I highly recommend their dirty martini (£8).

I’m not usually a fan of martinis as I always feel like they’re burning my taste buds off, but Anchorage’s martinis are smooth and dangerously easy drinking. Plus each dirty martini comes with a side of strong blue cheese, so it’s a drink and a snack!

anchorage martini

After taking a look through Anchorage’s new menu, I opted for the 6oz Tuna Nicoise steak, which came with green beans, egg, olive, anchovy and tomatoes (£15).

anchorage tuna steak

The 6oz tuna steak looked incredible – and it tasted every bit as good as it looked. The tuna was delicately cooked, so it was still juicy and pink on the inside, and it was heavily seasoned with lots of salt, so every bite was packed with flavour.

Just how good was the tuna steak? Well, since my visit to Anchorage I’ve found myself craving tuna and cooking it at home at least a couple of times a week. Anchorage has single-handedly got me hooked on tuna steaks!

The tuna came with a long list of added extras, including sun dried tomatoes and a breadcrumb-covered egg. Beneath the light breadcrumb coating, the egg yolk had just the right amount of runniness. I wish I could cook eggs this perfectly!

My tuna also came with a salad of lettuce, green apple, and pear. The pear slices were melt-in-the-mouth ripe, and were a nice contrast to the crispness of the green apple. This isn’t your typical boring salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes! Why can’t all salads be this good?

The tuna also came with a handful of walnuts, which turned out to be the most unusual and interesting part of the meal. Some of the walnuts had a tart, vinegary flavour, as though they’d been pickled, while others were crunchy and sweet. Whenever I picked up a walnut, I had no idea whether I was going to get sweet or sour.

The whole thing was finished off with fancy swirls and dollops of different purees and mousses, which brought even more flavours into the mix.

If you have a passion for new and interesting flavours, then Anchorage’s tuna steak is your perfect meal. After wolfing down the delicious steak, I thought the best part was over – but then I moved onto the different accompaniments, and every forkful was something new and interesting.

At £15, this tuna steak is at the top end of Anchorage’s menu, but it’s worth every penny. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about my meal – it was perfect.

Also arriving at our table was the Amish Chicken (£13) which promised half a chicken served with cream sauce, whipped potatoes and green beans.

When Anchorage say half a chicken, they mean half a chicken.

amish chicken

Even the photo doesn’t do justice to just how much chicken was on the plate. This is one of those mountains of food where no matter how much you eat, you never really seem to make a dent in it.

As if half of the world’s biggest chicken wasn’t enough, this meal comes with a super-sized portion of rich and creamy mashed potato.

Only order Anchorage’s Amish chicken if you’re seriously hungry – you’ve been warned!

After our massive main meals, we didn’t have room for pudding, so we wrapped up our Anchorage experience with a round of lattes.

anchorage coffee

Anchorage’s coffees are beautifully presented, with a few sugar cubes and a bourbon biscuit on the side. If you don’t have room for pudding, then this is the perfect way to end your meal.

I’ve never had a bad meal at Anchorage, and their new menu continues this tradition. The tuna steak is perfect for an adventurous eater, and the Amish chicken is guaranteed to leave you stuffed.

While looking through the new menu, I spotted a few more things I’m eager to try, so I’ll definitely be returning to Anchorage again soon. And of course, as soon as the sun comes out I’ll be treating myself to that long-awaited Anchorage cheese platter and glass (bottle…) of wine!

5-stars

Anchorage: Sunday Lunch

March 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 3 Comments
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I’ve eaten at Anchorage in West One Plaza a few times before and have always enjoyed it, so when I realised they did Sunday dinners too, I knew I had to give them a bash.

Sunday lunch is something I always enjoy, but rarely cook for myself (far too much washing up for my liking) so a city center venue offering Sunday lunch is always something worth getting excited about. I was particularly intrigued by Anchorage’s menu, as it hinted at an American twist on the traditional Sunday roast.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a mental block and wandered into Anchorage without a reservation on mother’s day. (Just in case you’re wondering, I took my mother out for lunch a few days prior to this, so I didn’t forget about mother’s day completely). Thankfully, I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch so much that I’d insisted on getting to Anchorage at 12 o’clock sharp, so we were pretty much the first people there and managed to snag one of the very few tables that weren’t reserved. Phew!

I’ve written about Anchorage before, so I won’t go into detail about the venue here (if you want to read about that, I talk about it my previous Anchorage post). Safe to say it’s a nice place that has some of the Wick at Both Ends‘ quirkiness but with a more polished finish. I feel like you could treat someone to a special meal at Anchorage and it’d go down well  – and judging by all the people celebrating mother’s day there, I’m not the only person who thinks this!

I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch all morning, so I didn’t even need to look at the menu – I already knew I’d be ordering the vegetarian Sunday roast. However, my dining companion fancied a starter first, so before I could get my hands on that longed-for Sunday roast, it was time for a glass of white wine and a starter of crispy squid with chipotle mayo (£5.50).

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The batter was light enough that it didn’t overwhelm the squid – always a good thing! The squid was tender and juicy, and the chipotle dip had a tanginess that complimented the squid perfectly. However, the batter did have an unusual, faint flavour that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – and I couldn’t make up my mind whether it was something I liked or not. The jury’s still out on this one!

Then, it was finally time for the Sunday roast I’d been craving.

The menu promised a plateful of nut roast, taters, green beans, squash, lima beans, popovers and veggie gravy (£9.00).

veg Sunday lunch

After some Googling, it became clear that popovers are basically Yorkshire puddings (you learn something everyday). This solved one mystery, but I still wasn’t sure why there were carrots on my plate, when carrots weren’t mentioned on the menu; and the lima beans that had been on the menu, were nowhere to be found.

This wasn’t a big deal for me personally, as given the choice I’d opt for carrots over lima beans anyway, but it would have been nice for the staff to mention this swap when I was placing my order. Who knows, I could have really been looking forward to those lima beans!

Missing lima beans aside, I was really pleased with the size of my roast dinner. For £9.00 this is a big plate of food!

The roast potatoes were fluffy on the inside with a delicious crispy skin, and the Yorkshire pud (or popover, if you prefer) was massive and misshapen – just like all good homemade puds should be.

When it came to the nut roast, I didn’t have high hopes. I love my Sunday dinners, and if you order a vegetarian Sunday dinner then 99% of the time you’re going to end up with a nut roast. It’s just that most of the time, you end up with a dried-out piece of nut roast that tastes like it’s been hanging around the back of the freezer for ages, waiting for the day when someone finally orders a vegetarian roast. Even at its best, to me nut roast just tastes like stuffing – give me an extra helping of roast potatoes or some mash any day!

So I was pleased to discover that Anchorage’s nut roast is actually really good.

This nut roast was far tastier than any stuffing I’ve ever had, and it was perfectly cooked – moist on the inside, with a nicely-roasted exterior. Anchorage were also really generous when it came to portioning out their nut roast, as I got three big patties of the stuff.

I can’t remember ever enjoying a nut roast so much. I even let my meat-loving friend try a forkful of nut roast and they loved the taste, too. Now that’s when you know a nut roast is good!

Anchorage once again nailed the whole vegetarian thing, with their veggie gravy. This kind of gravy can sometimes be a bit thin and anemic-looking, but Anchorage’s was thick and packed with flavour. Good gravy can make everything on a Sunday roast even better, and this gravy certainly did that! The bottom of the Yorkshire pudding/popover was particularly good, as it had been sat soaking in the gravy.

Although we’d originally planned to come to Anchorage for Sunday lunch, my friend opted out of ordering a roast at the last minute, when they spotted a 10oz hanger steak (£14.00) on the menu.

hanger steak

According to the menu, a hanger steak is an unusual cut that butchers traditionally keep for their own table – clearly, butchers have been saving the best for themselves!

hanger steak close up

Anchorage’s hanger steak is an intense and rich cut of meat that’s stronger and far tastier than your average steak. The words “best steak I’ve ever had” were even uttered!

The steak came with a few accompaniments – fries, a rustic slaw that tasted like it was made from celeriac, and a second helping of chipotle mayo. But really, this meal is all about the steak – and Anchorage’s hanger steak was perfection. If you’re the carnivorous sort with a fondness for steak, then you owe it to yourself to try this!

When it comes to Sunday roasts, I really can’t recommend Anchorage enough. They serve big platefuls of pure comfort food that’s seriously filling, and I can see many more Anchorage Sunday dinners in my future. After all, why bother to cook myself a Sunday lunch, when I can just pop to Anchorage and get something this good for £9.00? (And no washing up, either!)

This is easily the best Sunday roast I’ve had in a long time, and the hanger steak looked incredible. I can’t fault Anchorage – and I can’t wait to return!

5-stars

Anchorage Bar

October 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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When I heard that Anchorage, a new ‘East Coast’ restaurant, had opened in West One Plaza, I was looking forward to trying somewhere new – and that’s before I even realised this venue is part of the Harley and Wick at Both Ends family. The Harley and the Wick are two of my favourite places to eat in Sheffield, so when I realised Anchorage was related to these two, I couldn’t wait to give it a go!

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First impressions of Anchorage Bar were positive. It’s a bright and airy venue, with the same quirky touches and indie charm I love so much about the Wick at Both Ends.

If you’re a fan of the Wick, like I am, the cocktail menu will feel instantly familiar, as a couple of Wick cocktails have made the transition to Anchorage Bar. This doesn’t mean the drinks menu is a carbon copy, as Anchorage also offers a large and unique selection of imported beers, plus a very special prosecco sharer that’s actually served in a lobster cage!

This ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ is described as “the ultimate sharer” and, since it apparently consists of a whole bottle of prosecco, 6 shots, plus the aforementioned lobster cage, it sounds like it lives up to that description! I was dying to see what this beast actually looks like but sadly, at £40 it’s not exactly the sort of thing you order on a whim!

Despite this being my very first visit to a brand-new venue, I have to admit I ended up ordering a cocktail I’ve already had many times at the Wick at Both Ends – a Corpse Reviver (£7).

This deceptively-dainty looking drink is a potent blend of Buffalo Trace, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and Absinthe. Sadly, my Corpse Reviver was nothing like the “guaranteed to raise the dead” cocktail I remembered from the Wick. It tasted overpoweringly of lemon, and didn’t pack half the punch I’d been expecting. I haven’t ordered a Corpse Reviver in a while, so it’s possible the Wick have changed their recipe, or maybe Anchorage’s barman was simply having a bad day. Either way, I switched to wine for the rest of the evening rather than risk ordering another cocktail.

Since this was my first visit to Anchorage, I took my time scrutinising the food menu. In addition to the usual Starters, Mains, and Desserts sections, the menu also includes an enormous deli section made up of 6 inch subs, deli sandwiches, and a “build your own” board of cheeses and meats. For me, the meat and cheese board is the most exciting thing on the deli menu, as it comes with pickles, focaccia and squid ink bread. When summer rolls around, I can’t think of anything better than sharing a board of cheese and squid ink bread, with a cheeky bottle of wine on the side.

Sadly, summer isn’t about to roll around anytime soon – in fact, by the time I’d read through the deli menu and polished off my sour Corpse Reviver, it had already grown dark outside.

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It was high time we got serious and actually ordered some food! I opted for some comfort food, in the form of a Mac and Cheese burger (£8).

Anchorage Bar mac and cheese burger

I’ll admit the first time I saw a Mac and Cheese burger on a menu, I thought it sounded hideous. But then curiosity got the better of me and I ordered my first ever mac and cheese burger. I loved it, and have been ordering them ever since.

Anchorage’s version of a mac and cheese burger is incredibly strong. Whatever cheese they use in these burgers, it’s strong and salty, and has a tanginess that reminded me of blue cheese. If you like your cheese mild, then you should avoid this burger! For me, when it comes to cheese it’s a case of the stronger the better, so I loved the taste of this burger. The patty had been cooked just right too, which was a relief – no one wants soggy pasta or overcooked, rubbery cheese in their burger.

Anchorage’s mac and cheese burger is a filling and stodgy carb-fest. Just a few bites in, I knew there was no way I’d be able to eat it all. This is comfort food at its best, but I’d only order this again if I was seriously hungry, because this is one heavy burger!

My dining companion had also ordered a burger, but instead of pasta and cheese, their burger patty was made from 35 day, dry-aged beef, topped with a wedge of melted cheese (£8.50). Clearly, the Anchorage chefs aren’t worried about your waistline!

Anchorage Bar beef burger

This burger got a big thumbs up for the generous helping of cheese, and the thickly-glazed brioche bun.

We left Anchorage absolutely stuffed and, apart from that dodgy Corpse Reviver, feeling like we’d got good value for money. I’m already planning a second visit so I can sample that delicious-sounding deli menu!

Suffice to say, Anchorage is already well on its way to joining the Wick and the Harley as one of my favourite places to dine and drink in Sheffield.

four-stars

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