Though he’s not as big on travelling as I am, my boyfriend and I do share one love (well, two if you include his black Labrador…): we both love food. Whether we’re in the kitchen trying to recreate a Jamie Oliver recipe, ordering pizza to sit in front of Saturday Night Takeaway or heading out for a nice meal, we love eating.
We’re always looking for new bars, restaurants and cafes to try, especially those that are dog-friendly, as we usually take the pup with us on our weekend jaunts.
So in October last year when a couple of my boyfriend’s friends mentioned how good the food was at the Hope and Anchor pub – a pub that welcomed pooches with open arms – I tried to book a table for the following Saturday. Except I couldn’t, as the next available Saturday lunch slot wasn’t until the second week of January! “It must be bloody fantastic if it’s booked up that far in advance,” I thought.
Because all good things come to those who wait, I reserved a table for two at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 January, and we began counting down the days.
When the day finally rolled around, despite our post-Christmas food comas, we couldn’t wait to head over to the critically-acclaimed restaurant just across the Humber Bridge in South Ferriby, North Lincolnshire.
The Hope and Anchor is owned by Colin McGurran, the chef-patron of the illustrious Winteringham Fields in Winteringham. He’s been a finalist on the BBC’s Great British Menu three times, and is one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs, so of course we were excited.
But that morning, as we sat in bed perusing the seasonal menu and photos posted on the Hope and Anchor Facebook page (told you we love food), I received a call from the restaurant. The night before the MET Office had issued a weather warning, and as a result flood defenses had been erected because a tidal surge was expected. Disheartened, the manageress told me the road from the bridge to the restaurant was closed and she wasn’t sure if the pub was accessible from the other direction (around Scunthorpe).
Before she hung up she promised that they would still serve us if we could get to the restaurant for our allotted time, but as we would be driving across from the east coast of Yorkshire, she understood if we wanted to re-book for another date. As we’d waited this long though, we thought we’d chance it and left the house at 12.30pm, giving us plenty of time should we have to go the long way around.
Which we did, unfortunately.
After a 2-hour drive, with tummies rumbling audibly, we parked up and went inside. As the waiter got our table ready, we ordered drinks at the bar, immediately feeling at home in the cosy surroundings.
We really enjoyed our meal there, the food was gorgeous. But what really did it for us was the atmosphere and setting; sat at a table in the conservatory overlooking the Humber Estuary, we watched ducks and geese take off and crash land in front of us. And as we sat there sipping our drinks while the winter sun faded, the lights of the Humber Bridge offered a beautiful twinkly backdrop.
Unfortunately, when we went back to the restaurant for a second time a couple of months later, it wasn’t nearly as peaceful. But more on that later. First, the food…
Hope and Anchor – what’s being served?
Drinks wise, both times we’ve been to the Hope and Anchor I’ve plumped for G&Ts. The glasses are as big as my head and the gin is a decent measure poured over ice and a slice. Mixed with a bottle of Fever-Tree tonic, it’s seriously refreshing.
When we visited the pub a second time a few weekends ago for the boyfriend’s birthday, I drank the unique Whittaker’s Pink Peculiar crafted gin, with hibiscus and pink peppercorns, after spying it on the restaurant’s Facebook page. It was slightly tangy but also sweet. I’d definitely recommend trying it if it’s on the menu when you pay the pub a visit.
Next up, the starters…
On our first visit in January, the boyfriend went for the chicken liver pate, which was topped with an apple jelly and served with a chunky slab of toasted sourdough bread and some homemade chutney. It was delicious – the pate was smooth yet also a little coarse, the exact texture you want from a pate. Paired with the apple jelly, it made for one hell of starter.
I opted for something a little more adventurous: beef tartare scotch egg, served with pickled beetroot and capers and dusted with Parmesan shavings. As you’ll remember from my review of The Stag’s Head Inn, I am a sucker for a scotch egg. I also love steak tartare, so needless to say, had to order it.
As I sliced into the tiny quail’s egg encased by the raw beef mix, the bright yellow yolk oozed out. All I could think was the chef who’d made it must have had very dainty hands. So much skill had obviously gone into creating it, I felt slightly guilty eating it. But of course I did eat it, all of it. I would have licked my plate clean if there hadn’t been people sat nearby.
Second time around, when we visited on Sunday 5 March with his parents for the boyfriend’s birthday lunch, again we weren’t left disappointed by our choice of starters. I chose the smoked salmon, which was topped with little clusters of caviar, while he went for the pub’s renowned jacket potato soup. An unusual flavour for soup, I agree, but not something you should knock until you’ve tried.
Both times we’ve eaten at the Hope and Anchor our starter plates were quickly whisked away and replaced by our mains. This doesn’t bother me, though I know some people prefer to take a bit of time between courses. If you’re one of these people then I’d definitely advise not booking for a Sunday lunch time (more on that below).
When we were seated during our first visit to the pub, the boyfriend immediately spied the meat fridge in the corner of the dining room. The chefs at Hope and Anchor use the temperature controlled, dehumidified environment of the MaturMeat aging cabinet to dry their steaks, before cooking them in a Josper – an indoor barbecue-oven, reaching temperatures of up to 400c. So it was no surprise that he ordered a steak. He’s a Yorkshireman after all.
His medium-rare steak came with thrice cooked chips, a mixed dressed leaf salad and an oven dried tomato, plus a jug of peppercorn sauce. He cleaned his plate, so there’s no question of how tasty it was – but did he think it warranted the £27.95 price tag (that’s not including the extra £2.50 for the sauce)? He reckoned it was a bit steep, but said you’re really paying for the setting and service, which on this visit was worth it.
I opted for the daily special on our first visit: a roasted mallard breast served with buckwheat and roasted beetroot:
The duck was pink and tender, and the beetroot was fresh and earthy. But the buckwheat lacked flavour, and if I’m completely honest, the portion was a bit small (so I was grateful for the boyfriend not liking salad). At £18.50 it didn’t break the bank, but I wouldn’t order it again. Not when there were plenty of other things on the menu that I wanted to try anyway.
So I chose something different the second time we visited…
Above we have Roe deer two ways, with roast potatoes and broccoli. It was meant to come served with a Stilton sauce, but as I’m not a fan of blue cheeses, the waitress was more than happy to change it for a peppercorn sauce. It was delicious – the venison medallions were cooked to perfection and the meatball was so juicy. I was a big fan, and again, would have licked my plate clean if I hadn’t been in a heaving dining room (and with my boyfriend’s parents).
As it was Sunday lunchtime when we visited the restaurant for the boyfriend’s birthday, both him and his parents went for a traditional Sunday roast dinner, with his mum choosing the pork and the men choosing beef.
Not a euphemism, but just look at the size of my boyfriend’s yorkie!
My mother-in-law really enjoyed her pork, though couldn’t eat it all as the slices of meat were so thick. The boys weren’t as impressed with their beef dinners, and both said the meat was a little bit rare for their liking. There were plenty of sides to accompany their meals though, and the waitress was happy to bring more gravy when asked – but with the restaurant being so busy, all three had finished their food by the time it arrived.
With the boyfriend’s sweet-tooth, the puddings were by far our favourite part of the meal at Hope and Anchor:
Above we have a sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream, the famous H&A crème brûlée topped with a summer fruit compote, a banoffee crumble with vanilla ice cream and a Yorkshire rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream.
I’m sure your mouth is salivating just looking at the photos. The food at Hope and Anchor really is tasty – the crème brûlée so much so that I had it on both visits.
Hope and Anchor – what’s inside?
True to its name, the Hope and Anchor is a nautical themed pub, but it’s been kitted out tastefully, with a bit of country quaint thrown in for good measure.
There are a few eating areas in the bar, which are split away from the big, wood-paneled dining room by a massive fish tank. There is also the glass conservatory with views of the Humber. And when the weather is nicer, there’s a terrace outside with picnic tables.
The décor is a mix of shipping and sea-themed bespoke vintage pieces, driftwood cladding and dark panelling. I loved all the little details, right down to the engraved slates that the desserts were served on to a huge ship’s bust mounted to the wall.
As I said at the beginning, one thing that we always look for when visiting a new pub is if it’s dog-friendly. The Hope and Anchor welcomes well-behaved dogs, and the lovely waiter even brought out a water bowl for the pup when we walked him into the bar after our meal.
Hope and Anchor – what’s the verdict?
We really do rate the food at this pub, and would go back (though will have to save our pennies first, as the bill came in at just under £100 for the two of us on that first visit). But as previously mentioned, unfortunately when we visited the pub for the second time we didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as we had before.
I can only put this down to the day we chose to go. On the Sunday the restaurant was packed to bursting point. We felt cramped, it was noisy and the poor waiting staff were rushed off their feet, so didn’t have time to serve us properly, let alone make small talk with us. Menus were hastily put into our hands and when we asked about specials we were directed towards the chalkboard on the wall, rather than have them explained to us.
This was a stark contrast to our previous experience, where we’d chatted for a while with the pretty waitress about the menu and the specials, our 2-hour drive to get to the restaurant and how much we loved the view.
To drive that far for a meal does take real commitment, but the location of the Hope and Anchor is spectacular, with amazing views of the Humber Bridge and estuary. We’ll definitely be visiting again, though most probably on a Saturday in the summer, when we can sit on the terrace outside. I’m sure the pup will enjoy that a lot more too.
** All food was purchased by myself, and these are my own words **