You’re probably familiar with pigeons. These drab grey sky rats are unfortunately synonymous with London. In Mary Poppins the lovable bag lady merrily sings ‘Feed the Birds’ to the delight of the saccharin sweet youngsters she is luring towards herself for unknown ends. I would strongly advise that you don’t feed the birds and do nothing to encourage them and in the case of the ones around The Anchor Bankside be actively hostile towards them. Most of the diners on the ambitiously European style outdoor seating area at The Anchor Bankside were being pestered by the most brazen pigeons I’ve ever seen and woe betide the man who tries to placate them with a chip for the next week they will be back for your sausages or your children!! (NB: Pigeons rarely steal children. I made that bit up).
There is a huge list of things that make this by far one of the best riverside pubs in the area. Inside it is gloriously eccentric in its lay out with most rooms adjoined by unexpected steps ready to catch out the less observant/more drunk. The bars are mainly set at diagonals to each other and the architect seems to have been determined to avoid right angles at all costs throughout the entire structure. If you avoid peering too closely this is ‘olde worlde’ pub territory.
If sitting inside isn’t your thing then you have two options; navigate the maze that is the pub interior and try to find access to the second floor balcony. Alternatively you can sit on the terrace out at the front with the aforementioned army of aggressive pigeons. Earlier I described the terrace as ambitiously European the reason being at its centre there is an outdoor bar. Were this a pub on the banks of the Seine or the Tiber this unusual sight would be in thriving use for a large portion of the year. Sadly I fear that given that our summer lasts around three weeks it gets little action and I can picture errant bartenders trying to flog jugs of Pimms defiant in the face of an encroaching August downpour. Regardless of this I admire this stoicism in the face of our terrible weather.
Nearby is Shakespeare’s Globe and I’m inclined to buy into the idea that the old chap might have drunk in a prior incarnation of the pub. Perhaps The Tempest was inspired as he tried to enjoy his mead at the outdoor bar under particularly dire meteorological circumstances. Pepys is also said to have drunk here but then a lot of places claim this is the case. Maybe if he’d helped put out the great fire rather than just wander around getting hammered it may not have been as bad.
Refreshment options are good with some solid beer offerings at the bar and a fairly extensive menu though a capital crime is committed by having pictures of the food on it. Despite being sandwiched between some day tripper hot spots The Anchor seems to be large enough and authentic enough to have avoided succumbing to feeling like an Angus Steakhouse with a bar and some beams on the ceiling. It’s a cracking pub and you could do worse than making a point of going down there a few.