Top restaurant quality food in the cosy surrounds of a 16th century pub. Sounds like perfection.
The Anchor is smack bang in the middle of Ripley – which can probably lay claim to the title of Surrey’s most gastronomic village. And with 2 AA rosettes and a Bib Gourmand awarded by Michelin, The Anchor certainly goes some way to helping this pretty village cement that title (along with the Michelin-starred Clock House, which is diagonally opposite).
Ripley is just off the A3, and not far from junction 10 on the M25. Guildford is about 10 minutes away, as is Woking, in a different direction. During the day, parking in Ripley can be a get-lucky-if-you-can affair – but this is where The Anchor and its carpark is your friend. In the evening though, when the shoppers have gone home, parking in Ripley is a cinch.
The Anchor is a gastropub that walks the line between being a local boozer cum village centre point and a chi-chi gourmet destination restaurant. The building is brimming with character – low ceilings, exposed beams, log fires and lots of cosy nooks and cubbyholes – reflecting the pub’s early 16th century heritage.
It’s cosy and intimate, with a main dining area plus two smaller snugs – one with a table for eight that can be privately hired and the other with comfy armchairs for enjoying a drink. As well, there’s an outdoor courtyard.
The Anchor has been on my hit-list for some time – so I was excited about my Friday night booking. I’d tied in dinner here with an overnight girly break at the gorgeous Broadway Barn B&B, which is a fabulous 30 second walk away. Being a Friday, the pub was buzzing – as you’d expect – with a mix of couples, and groups of friends. The atmosphere was lively, without being loud.
SCOFF & QUAFF
While it is Steve Drake who owns The Anchor, it is chef Mike Wall-Palmer who rules the kitchen. A former protege of Steve, Mike’s cooking is creative and inventive.
The menu is exciting and imaginative – with good choices of meat, fish and veggie options. Let me tell you, you’re going to enjoy eating here.
I went for the courgette and feta roulade with aubergine and toasted seeds and my friend chose the wood pigeon with butternut puree and pickled blackberries. They’re gorgeously presented – as you can see – and tasted great too.
The main course was faultless. I went for the south coast brill with cabbage and ginger puree, salsify and red wine butter, while my mate went for the salmon with coconut rice, cashew nuts and lemongrass sauce.
For pud, we couldn’t make up our minds – so we shared a blackberry cheesecake and white chocolate sorbet (it was as good as it sounds), and followed it with a cheeseboard of British cheeses with pear and saffron chutney.
The service is attentive, friendly and chatty. And there’s a decent drinks list.
Yes, if they’re well-behaved but I’m sure they’d be the first to admit that they’re friendly to rather than focused on children. There’s a distinctly grown-up feel to The Anchor, so I’d probably leave my two at home. But if you do have hungry kids in tow, or you’re planning a family get-together, head for the snug.
OUT & ABOUT
There’s no absence of countryside in these parts – and this is a popular spot for cyclists and walkers. This 2.5 hour walk takes in the Papercourt Reservoir and part of the Wey River – it’s also mostly flat.
There’s also an eclectic mix of shops in Ripley, and a great farmer’s market on the second Saturday of each month.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Local foodies – it’s great food in a relaxed atmosphere. Romantics, large groups, special occasions are all perfect here.
Not for: If it’s simple pub grub, this probably isn’t your spot.
The damage: Starters hover around the £9 mark, but dip down to £6.50 for the soup. Mains are between £15 – £26 (beef sirloin). Afters are £7-£8.
The Anchor, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AE. 01483 211866. ripleyanchor.co.uk