Years ago, a friend of a friend asked me for some business advice. He wanted to set up a gastro pub with his (then) boss. I told him what I knew about shares, trading structures and legal entities. It wasn’t a long conversation. Truth be told I didn’t really think he would follow it through. He did, and a decade on their gastro pub – The Anchor & Hope – is firmly established as the benchmark of the modern gastro pub. Serving tasty food, from well sourced ingredients, in a simple pub setting.
Now that I have a pub of my own I would love to bring that ethos to Greenwich. No fuss, no parade, just freshly cooked, delicious food, in a relaxed and welcoming environment. So, with the building work completed, the garden quiet and the restaurant operating smoothly, I can turn my attention to achieving that.
From a food perspective the first step is to develop the menu. This weekend autumnal dishes, such as a Smoked Ham Hock & Purple Artichoke Salad with Soft Boiled Duck Egg and Char-grilled Trout with Tarragon Lentils, Cavolo Nero & Almond Butter, will feature on a weekly changing menu. For the sweet toothed we have a Warm Rice Pudding with Armagnac Prunes and a Warm Pear & Almond Tart with Creme Anglaise.
It’s not just the food that will be evolving. We also have plans to refurbish the pub dining room. Nothing major; just a few touches here and there to improve the space and the ambiance.
Incidentally, there was another friend of a friend who wanted to have a chat with me about his ideas for a fast food concept. I tried to helpful, give a bit of insight into the industry, but I was far too busy with my fledgling restaurant (inside) to be of any use. Truth be told I didn’t really think he would follow it through either. Wrong again. I can only smile to myself every time I pass a branch of Leon.
Char-grilled Trout with Tarragon Lentils, Cavolo Nero & Almond Butter
In this dish the trout is scaled, scored and cut in half across the bone. It is then rubbed in olive oil, seasoned and char-grilled. This imparts a wonderfully smoky aroma to the fish. The fish is served with Cavolo Nero and Puy lentils. The lentils have been cooked with a brunoise of vegetables, and at the last moment mustard dressing, chopped parsley and tarragon are stirred in. A simple butter sauce, seasoned with lemon juice, and flavoured with toasted almonds completes the dish. Almonds have a well known affinity with trout but the way they complement the lentils and tarragon is both surprising and delicious.