Once seated, I glanced over in horror as a table of 12 seated their toddlers within flicking distance of us; this was particularly unnerving given I was dining with the sweariest man on Twitter. I hope they were too young to understand us.
The Anchor & Hope operates a set menu for Sunday lunch, one sitting at 2pm. The place was packed right out; laughter, glasses chinking and children demanding attention rang around us. Olives were huge, and radishes dipped in a suitably fishy and garlicky Anchoïde, a Provencal sauce, got us off to a good start.
Fish soup with a rouille-topped crouton and Olgeshield cheese was a monster portion. The broth was rich, dark orange and deep in flavour with the fish was cooked to tender perfection, though if I was to be picky I'd say it was slightly over-salted. This might have been due to the stark contrast of the glass of pear fizz I'd previously consumed.
Roast rare breed (Sasso) chicken was placed before us, alongside a mammoth dish of gratin Dauphinoise. The skin of the chicken was pleasingly crisp and the meat juicy and herb-spiked. Eyes boggled at the sight of the creamy discs of potato and I am sad to say it defeated us. I contemplated asking for a doggy bag but my arteries pleaded for mercy. The watercress largely went untouched for favour of more spud.
Thankfully, the Poire belle Hélène dessert was light. The poached pear, tasting slightly boozy, was enveloped in a thin layer of chocolate syrup topped with hazelnuts. It was tricky business chasing it round the bowl with the spoon provided and my companion opted to eat it with his hands, dribbling pear juice down his sleeves in the process.
Dishes cleared, espressos drank, we ordered a second bottle of wine. It got dark outside, chairs were put on tables and the staff reassured us that there was no rush. A full five hours after I'd arrived, we were the last to wobble out the door, stuffed to the gills and a little drunk. It may have started off disastrously but it ended well, and I can't think of a much finer way to spend a Sunday.
The Anchor & Hope
36 The Cut,
London, SE1 8LP
Tel: 020 7928 9898