Andy Mossack visits Anglo to experience chef Anthony Raffo’s spring tasting menu.
I first tasted Anthony’s food when he was head chef at an Anglo private members club collaboration. His passion for foraging and fermenting combined with an uncanny talent for flavour pairing was crystal clear and a joy to taste.
Wind forwards a few years and with owner-chef Mark Jarvis focussing on a new restaurant venture, he’s put the running of Anglo into Anthony’s very safe hands. Having said that, Anglo already has a reputation for outstanding food, given Jarvis’ pedigree, but now with Raffo at the helm, ably assisted by Manager and Sommelier Marie Danzanvilliers, the emphasis is firmly on British seasonal and responsibly farmed produce. Of course, it goes without saying there’s a fair amount of Raffo foraging and fermenting thrown in there too.
Here’s the thing though, on a Saturday night Leather Lane is as barren as an empty barn, and Anglo is so discreet you’d walk right past if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Tucked away at the end of St. Cross Street, a tiny Anglo sign glows green in an otherwise featureless frontage. The cosy interior is just as low key, you could almost imagine yourself in a small works canteen. Personally, I’ve never much cared for fancy décor in restaurants, it’s the food and wine that’s doing the impressing for me, not the velvety wallpaper.
And the word is most definitely out. Since Anthony’s been at the helm Anglo is storming up the charts with 3 AA rosettes, a Michelin Guide plate and currently lying at 21(up from 126 last year) in Harden’s top 100 Best UK Restaurants guide 2022.
There’s also no food decision-making to be undertaken. The à la carte option has been jettisoned in favour of the ten-course tasting menu, designed to showcase Raffo’s culinary magic, made more enjoyable with Marie’s additional wine pairing should you feel the need.
We kick off with a chef’s snack, a solitary Barber cheddar cheese and walnut tartlet. Shaved to an inch of its life, this flavoursome mature Shepton Mallet cheddar is literally overflowing a delicate pickled walnut-infused crusty base.
Next comes another snack, something a little unusual. New Forest asparagus, herbs, wild mushroom, and chickweed. The unusual part is the blanched asparagus has a savoury covering that I swear is Marmite (a personal favourite of mine) but find out later it’s a genius combination of yeast and mushrooms. I swear you wouldn’t know the difference. It’s topped with a few sprigs of foraged chickweed.
This is all going wonderfully to plan, and I sense from our dining neighbours they seem to be on the same page as us.
Now Raffo’s signature sourdough triumphantly arrives from Marie. Just-baked mini single loaves to share between the two of us, and a dollop of yeast butter on the side. I mean, who can resist just-baked sourdough? Just before she leaves to bring out the cauliflower course, and clearly noticing we’re devouring the bread, whispers “I suggest you save some of the bread for the next course, you’ll need it to mop up with.” Point taken; we pause. But not for long, as the cauliflower arrives with black garlic, lettuce, apple, curd and wild garlic.
This time of the year, wild garlic is in season, and I can’t get enough of those fragrant leaves. I put them in salads, soups, and even sandwiches if I can get away with it.
Anthony, on the other hand, takes a more delicate approach, with an absolute belter of a dish. The title doesn’t really do it justice. An off-the-charts fermented cauliflower broth with satisfyingly crunchy lettuce and apple and of course that wild garlic flavour. Needless to say, we mop up all that gorgeous broth with every scrap of bread we have left.
Almost halfway through now, and already some memorable highlights. And it seems our table neighbours are debating just that.
Next up is chalk stream trout with mussel, white asparagus and seaweed. The white asparagus is wrapped around the trout and even though there is no mushroom in here, I’m getting a strong forestry/earthy taste. Another delicious sauce too.
There’s a highly recommended supplement course coming next. Scallop with Yorkshire rhubarb, gherkin, and dill. It comes in a small pot with the rhubarb covering a 30 – minute – pickled scallop. The pickle, the rhubarb and the gherkin brine bring a zinging tartness to the proceedings. A worthy addition to the tasting menu.
The main course is beef short rib, sunflower seed, white cabbage, elderflower, and herbs. Short rib should be served meltingly soft and this one is just that, wrapped in the cabbage with an herb topping and finished with a sauce vert wine jus. I’m regretting using up all that sourdough now.
Coming into the final straight and some ice-cold marquee dishes. First, another Raffo staple, Tunworth British style Camembert but now as an ice cream, with a prune sauce and toasted old sourdough. Well, why not use leftover sourdough and put it to good use. Very refreshing after the beef. And quickly followed by a delightful carrot-based palate cleanser, a fermented carrot sorbet, with pickled foraged spruce tips, and cold pressed Hampshire rapeseed oil.
As grand finales go, this next one is quite the showstopper. Billed as ‘British buckwheat, berries, beetroot, and raw honey’, is in reality a plate of pure drama. Splashed red with a dusting of beetroot powder, this is salted British buckwheat ice cream, over a berry compote, with slow-cooked beetroot that has been roasted, dehydrated then rehydrated, and a raw honey tuille. It is a sensational finish to a tasting menu that is a work of art.
It surely cannot be long before Mr Raffo gets that Michelin star he’s been toiling for. Until then, just enjoy the ride and give Anglo the support it deserves.
All images except asparagus (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Anglo Restaurant
Anglo, 30 St Cross St, London EC1N 8UH
T: 020 7430 1503 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tasting Menu £75 Wine Pairing £40 (5 glasses) (Available lunch and dinner)
Scallop course supplement is £7.50
Lunch 12.30pm – 4pm (last booking 2pm) Friday and Saturday
Dinner 5.45pm – 11pm (last booking 8:30) Tuesday to Saturday