We had lunch on a cool, rainy day at The Anchor Inn at Sutton Gault, a 17th Century building housing a small B&B and a pub nestled against the bank of the New Bedford River in Ely.
You can’t help but feel relaxed when you pull up to such a tranquil spot. It’s off the beaten path, but well worth a visit. Located just outside Sutton, in the outskirts of Ely, gault refers to the hard clay that was used to create the river banks which this pub resides upon.
The Anchor Inn was originally built in 1650 as a pub to serve the many workers that were digging the rivers that would serve to drain the area known as The Fens so the grounds could be used for agricultural purposes. These workers were largely made up of Scottish prisoners of war, captured by Oliver Cromwell. While their future was precarious, the pub itself remains in operation today. Here you can enjoy a meal and take the opportunity to stroll along the river with its sweeping views across the Fens. You may even run into some horses along the way.
Still evident of its past are the original rustic exposed beams, low ceilings and fireplaces in every room.
Overall, the food at The Anchor is terrific and features modern British cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and traditional ingredients. Despite some minor flaws along the way, the menu is quite ambitious for a pub.
For starters, the roasted beetroot, goat’s cheese salad with thyme oil and balsamic glaze was nice and visually perfect, but the beets were quite crunchy still and could have used a few more minutes roasting to soften them more and to caramelize them fully. It would have tasted much better had the root vegetable’s full sweetness been realized.
The confit of pigeon, bacon and black pudding croquettes with watercress salad and port reduction had such a wonderful depth of flavor and textures. The spicy port reduction paired beautifully with the fowl and the sweet, salty bacon.
The black pudding added a deep, rich highlight to the dish. It was perfect until…
lead-shot in the pigeon. That could seriously break a tooth! I’m sorry, but if you are feeling the meat and shaping it to make a croquette, then you would expect that the chef would have had to discover this piece of metal, but he didn’t and I was quite surprised. I know it’s not uncommon to find lead shot in fowl but this takes “field to table” to a new level. Just glad it wasn’t swallowed! Ouch!
Things thankfully perked up after that. Fat, tender Sutton sausages that were flavorful and juicy, with mashed potatoes and gravy and crisp green beans that still snapped when you ate them were delightful. The dish was undeniably perfect in every way- the ultimate comfort food on such a cold, grey day.
My friend had the pan-fried sea trout on a bed of new potatoes and samphire (marsh asparagus), which I had several fork-full’s of. I love samphire and it is one of the most unique vegetables I have ever had- like extra thin asparagus that acts more like spaghetti than asparagus and salty like the sea with a very fresh, bright taste.
There was a light and summery lemon panna cotta with melon soup and elderflower foam for dessert and it was no match to my sticky toffee pudding with stem ginger ice cream and butterscotch sauce. Truth be told, I may actually like sticky toffee pudding (and treacle tart) more than I do any other dessert these days. Shh! don’t tell chocolate mousse.
By and large, the meal was quite good. The charming, rustic atmosphere coupled with the lovely location made this an exceptionally nice experience. At £13.95 (about $22) for Two Courses and £17.95 ($29) for Three Courses, it was very reasonably priced for a weekday lunch menu.
The Anchor Inn
Sutton Gault, Sutton near Ely,
Cambridgeshire, CB6 2BD
Telephone: 44 (0)1353 778537
Update on Jamie’s Italian-
Back in March when we visited Jamie’s Italian I had an unfortunate experience of not being able to take home half my main course that I didn’t finish due to their no doggie-bag policy. My friend sent an email regarding our experience and they invited us back to try the restaurant again and to give them another chance. They still have not changed their policy, so we kept a close eye on how much we ordered so we would have no leftovers-not so fun when trying out a new place. (Every other restaurant around Cambridge we have eaten at has always offered us to take home anything we didn’t finish.)
Needless to say, we had a nice meal here and the food was on par to what you’d expect from Jamie Oliver. The starter plank of cured meats and Italian cheeses was perfect and just the right amount of antipasti for the two of us.
The Wild Truffle Risotto is my favorite dish, with finely minced black truffles with butter and shaved Parmesan. A really lush and delicious treat and I ate every last bite of it.
The steak was cooked beautifully and simply done with a drizzle of good olive oil over the top.
We skipped dessert as we were pretty full by this point. Overall, we had a much better experience this time than we did last time. I think we’d even consider going back.
The Old Library
Phone 44 (0) 1223 654094