The Anglesea Arms

Hammersmith

It has been some time since we have eaten in this lively gastropub just south of the Goldhawk Road in Hammersmith. It was good in the past and probably even better this time. Despite the boisterous atmosphere in the bar & the tightly packed tables in the well-used dining area, staff maintain their good humour and give us a cheerful welcome, showing us to a scrubbed pine table and presenting us with the day’s special menu.

Menus change constantly according to what is available on the market. There is a large blackboard along one end of the room; it is full of mouth-watering offerings such as starters of Carpaccio of beef; smoked eel with a beetroot remoulade; Country pork terrine (fantastic pate de Campagne) and Ricotta and Courgette tart. Main courses included Roast mutton with lentils, peas and artichokes; Turbot with courgettes, roast cherry tomatoes and asparagus with a salsa verde; Duck breast with Kenya beans, red onions and new potatoes; and for the more daring Caramelised pig’s head with stuffed cabbage and celeriac puree.

Desserts such as Orange and vanilla Pannacotta; Treacle tart; and Raspberry soufflé all sounded tempting, but we were too full by then. Excellent, good value house wines and nice coffee.

Everything we ate was superb and the quality was exceptionally high. The al fresco terrace is a must when the sun shines and there is a good selection of well kept beers for the beer drinker. If we lived in London, it would be one of our regular haunts.

The Mason’s Arms

Knowstone

The Mason’s Arms is a picture postcard 13th century cob and thatch inn in the tiny village of Knowstone on the edge of Exmoor, twenty minutes north of junction 27 on the M5, up the North Devon link road. It is well signposted on your right hand side. We returned here for our annual visit a couple of weeks ago.

On entering the bar, a low-ceilinged room with lots of exposed beams, there is a huge fireplace complete with bread oven and some scrubbed pine tables and benches. It still retains its pub atmosphere in the bar, with real ale on tap and real locals who come for a pint and a chat. It has a Michelin star, but is one of the least pretentious Michelin-starred restaurants you will ever find. There are two menus and a Sunday lunchtime menu. The daily lunchtime menu is great value at £21 for two courses and £25 for three courses – this in a Michelin-starred restaurant!  The Sunday lunch menu is a three course meal for £36, also terrific value. The à la carte menu has a selection of five starters, five main courses and five desserts, which might include pan-fried foie gras; Gin Cured Salmon, Salt Baked Beetroot and Cucumber; Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash, Pomegranate Dressing; Wild Mushroom Arancini with Thyme Oil; delicious seared peppered tuna with oriental salad, Devon crab with crème fraîche and a mango dressing, pork belly with braised red cabbage, fillet of beef with sweetbreads, halibut with a potato crust and a cider sauce, sea bass with aubergines. And to conclude Devon and Somerset Farmhouse Cheeses;  Dark Chocolate Ganache with Yoghurt Sorbet and Passion Fruit Syrup;  Honey Pannacotta with Blackcurrant Ice Cream and Brandy Snaps; Banoffee Mille Feuille with Pecan Praline; Chestnut Soufflé with Cinnamon Crème Anglaise and Mandarin Sorbet. And finally, good coffee followed with homemade petits fours. (seehttp://www.masonsarmsdevon.co.uk/resources/ALC-Autumn-16-rev1116.pdf for a current menu)

After 13 years as head chef at Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn and then a short spell at Cliveden, Mark Dodson, his wife Sarah (and their three young daughters) bought this pub in July 2005, in order to enjoy a less pressurised life with more of a family atmosphere. Sarah is a delightful hostess whilst Mark works his magic in the kitchen.

The small fifteen to twenty seater dining-room at the back is light and airy and looks on to some pleasing, rolling Exmoor countryside. There is a terrace where meals can be served on fine days, or where you can enjoy a drink before your meal. The tables are scrubbed oak, the service is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed.

The wine list is small but interesting. We chose an old favourite of ours, Quiot’s Gigondas 2011, which was quite exceptional.

Excellent food and wine with first class service. This was another outstanding meal and well worth a special trip to Exmoor.

www.masonsarmsdevon.co.uk

 

Moro, Exmouth Market, London

34 – 36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE, Tel: 0207 833 8336 Email: info@moro.co.uk moro.co.uk

Moro lies at the heart of the lively pedestrianised street, Exmouth Market, in Islington. Known for its award-winning Moorish cuisine, the restaurant is popular not only with diners, but with those who come in to enjoy tapas, which are served throughout the day. It was an unusual route which led to the establishment of Moro in the spring of 1997: two cooks, Samantha and Sam Clark, shared a desire to discover the abundant flavours of the Southern Mediterranean. They married, bought a camper van and set off on a three month journey. They drove through Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, learning, observing and tasting along the way.

As they travelled, the two Sams experimented with local ingredients on their small gas hob, gleaning as much information as they could about different regional cooking, and the varying techniques used. Armed with stories, passion and ideas, they brought what they’d learnt back to Britain, and combined their new knowledge with their shared experience of working at London restaurants, the River Café and the Eagle, to create Moro.

The welcome is especially warm and friendly, making one feel they really are pleased to see you. Inside it is modern, light and airy. Comfortable chairs and fresh flowers on the tables. We began with a glass of delicious Tio Pepe en rama – an unfiltered sherry with lots of flavour. Starters were a Mussel and Prawn Salpicon salad, subtly dressed and full of flavour and a seared pigeon breasts with caramelised chick peas and cinnamon. Both delicious and really interesting – accompanied by a further glass of that lovely sherry. They have a huge wood fired grill in the kitchen, so many of their dishes are cooked on this. We chose Charcoal grilled lamb with slow cooked green beans, farika, almonds and seasoned yoghurt and Wood roasted mackerel with koshary, crispy onions, chopped fresh tomato and chilli. Fantastic lamb, tender and barbequed in flavour with a scrumptious bean and farika mixture. Moist, perfectly cooked mackerel and delicious accompaniments. Two glasses of Sami Ghosn’s Massaya Silver Selection were the perfect accompaniment. Gosh, that wine is fantastic! Good coffee. Superb, friendly, informed service.

Highly recommended.

Opening Times

  • Lunch (Mon–Sat) 12.00–2.30
  • Lunch (Sun) 12.30–2.45
  • Dinner (Mon–Sat) 6.00–10.30
  • Tapas served all day at the bar (Mon–Sat)