A cosy pub with cushions and warm lighting is good at any time of year, but I grow pretty fond of them come autumn when the evenings begin to draw in. I was invited to try The Anchor in Aspley Guise, a stones throw away from Woburn Sands, just outside Milton Keynes. The evening my Mum and I went, was cold, wet and miserable so the warmly lit interior seemed all the more appealing!
The Anchor was recently renovated with an extension added on the back, giving them more space to serve food. It is owned by Epic Pubs, who also own 185 Watling Street in Towcester and two other venues in the UK. However, this isn’t like other chains – each pub has it’s own head chef who decides on the menu, so you won’t find the same food in the other pubs. YES for independence. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and every bit the cosy, country village pub. We were settled down with a drink – I ordered a Pornstar Martini, and my Mum ordered a glass of tonic. They have a fantastic cocktail menu on offer. My martini was pretty damn good, and basically just tasted like a passionfruit smoothie with just a slight burn to let you know it was alcoholic. It went down very well thank you very much.
Our starter was an absolute no brainer; we shared a whole baked camembert which were served with apple and celery slices and sourdough toast. When is cheese not a good idea? The camembert was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of ‘goo’ to it. There was an addition of breadcrumb with apple on top of the cheese which gave a hint of sweetness and texture. Think apple crumble for camembert. I’ll be trying this at home! This was a sharing starter which meant we still had room for mains after.
Along with some daily specials, there was a good range on the menu. From vegetarian dishes to fish and meat, there was certainly something that would suit everyone. There wasn’t masses, but then again I’m someone who never likes to be faced with too much choice so this suited me fine. Interestingly, there were no burgers on the menu which is unusual for a pub! We washed our mains down with a glass of wine each.
I opted for the 8oz Devon prime sirloin steak which was served with a choice of side and sauce; I had sweet potato fries and bearnaise sauce. I liked my steak cooked medium leaning slightly rare, and it was cooked to perfection. The meat was tender and you could tell it was good quality. The bearnaise sauce was thick and creamy with a great flavour that complimented the steak. The sweet potato fries were super yummy and had some kind of spicy chipotle sauce on them which added a bit of fire. All of the steaks were also served with a little salad of lettuce, tomatoes and crispy onions which was a nice addition. I thought the plate was strangely large for the amount of food on it, (which is super picky of me) but it is one of those weird optical illusions that makes everything look smaller!
Mum ordered the Cornish Lamb loin which was served with garlic mash, Salt Baked Celeriac, Red Wine & Shallot Jus. This was presented beautifully and did not disappoint on the flavour front! The lamb simply melted in the mouth and had a wonderful flavour. The mash has just enough hint of garlic which married together the dish and went nicely with the jus. This went down very well with Mum, especially as she is a big fan of lamb!
We just about managed to squeeze in a dessert each. The manager told us that everything is home made on the premises which is good to hear and he managed to persuade me to try the lemon and raspberry meringue pie. This was heaven on a plate! The home made lemon curd was zesty and thick and went perfectly with the fluffy meringue on top. There was some very tart raspberry sauce on the side which made me screw my face up a little bit, but this was worth saving room for! A classic combination that you can’t go wrong with.
Mum was taken by the home made ice creams and sorbets on offer, so chose a selection; passion fruit and mango sorbet, salted caramel ice cream and vanilla pod ice cream. The sorbet was fresh and full of flavour. The salted caramel ice cream went down very well too! A great way to end the meal if you’re feeling a little on the full side.
I will definitely be back to The Anchor. I love the look of their Sunday Roasts and brunch menus which I would definitely like to go back for. We had such a lovely experience there and the food, service and atmosphere was great. I was a little unsure of how noisy it might be because as a local pub and it being a Saturday night, the bar was quite crowded. However, the dining area is completely separate from the bar, so we ate uninterrupted! Price wise, it is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. Starters average about £6 each whereas mains are probably around £20. I do think the food is worth it though and I always prefer eating in independents, not chains. When you find a local gem like this, its nice to support it! So if you’re looking for a new local with a cosy, country vibe, look no further than The Anchor at Aspley Guise.
To book a table and view the menu visit theanchoraspleyguise.com.
Have you ever been to The Anchor? What did you think?
*This meal was complimentary for review purposes but all opinions are my own.