When it comes to finding a relaxing country spot for a bite to eat, there’s no shortage of choice in East Sussex, but after setting sail for The Blue Anchor, Richard Williams understands why this Crowborough pub is always making waves in the world of great food and drink. …
Once considered the favorite haunt of smugglers and poachers who roamed the East Sussex countryside, The Blue Anchor in Crowborough now attracts a much more civilized clientele, but the pub’s anarchic roots are certainly not forgotten in its food.
With a name like The Blue Anchor, you’d be forgiven for thinking the cozy 18th century pub tucked away along the A26 was primarily a fish restaurant.
And while East Sussex’s ties to the sea and its smugglers aren’t forgotten, the eclectic menu also celebrates many other local ingredients for which the region has become well known.
Under starter’the orders
You get a distinct continental feel to this classic pub, not only in the almost brasserie-style ambience of the dining room, with its well-spaced country house tables and decor in warm autumnal colors, but also the menu borrows from the influence of many European countries. and locally.
Oysters from outside Kent are rare in these areas, but Tipsy Maldon oysters (a half-dozen £12) at The Blue Anchor show that Essex produces equally sweet delights as their southern rivals -East.
“There’s a good range of lighter bites and vegetarian options, with nibbles such as white bait, smoked garlic hummus and pickled olives”
Another must-have item for seafood lovers is baby octopus. This was served with sautéed chorizo and mashed carrots (£7.95) during our visit, but the chef also has another Spanish version of the dish, serving it with patatas bravos (£9), this which almost makes it a meal in itself.
There’s a good range of lighter bites and vegetarian options, with bites ranging from white bait and smoked garlic hummus to marinated olives (all £4.50) making this a perfect place for a drink and a light bite.
The main event
Fish occupies an important place among the main dishes. The ubiquitous classic pub cod and chips (£14.95) and seared sea bass (£15.95) were both on our menu, along with the skate wing (£16) and Monkfish Harissa (18 £) also often served as specialties.
But the meat is certainly not forgotten, and after a starter of fish, the simmered pork belly (12 hours) (£16.95) proved very tempting.
The pork was as tender as you’d imagine after such a long, slow roast, and since it came with a superb crispy cracker and fennel mash, it was perfect for the winter.
There’s no shortage of other carnivorous options on the menu here, with rump of lamb (£15.50) and a range of burgers (£13) on offer.
The buttermilk fried chicken burger (£13.95) is worthy of attention for those after a midday bite or something less substantial for dinner. The haberno and mango mayonnaise give it a real boost.
The Blue Anchor is one of those establishments that is difficult to leave, and the generous menu of desserts and cheese platters will have you loosening your belt to make room for others.
Of course, liqueurs and coffees are also offered to end the evening in style.
Perhaps The Blue Anchor’s greatest strength when it comes to its menu is how much it changes. No two visits are the same, with the team choosing to make the most of what is fresh, seasonal and available.
There are also regular pizza nights thanks to the pub’s popular outdoor pizza oven, plus plenty of space for events and the celebration of special occasions.
With such a choice of excellent pubs and restaurants in the area, The Blue Anchor ranks among the best of them all – in part because of the establishment’s extensive efforts to make the most of the best of Kent and its surroundings. East Sussex. , combined with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that will have you coming back again and again.