The Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, SE1

This was a pub Sunday lunch at its very best, a real home from home with great food, incredibly friendly service and a very relaxed ambiance. Their formula is a little different, there’s no menu on a Sunday, you just eat what they’re serving. Aslo, there’s only one sitting, lunch is served at 2pm which adds to the laid back atmosphere – no one is trying to rush you out of your seat to pack in the covers.

On every other day of the week the pub doesn’t take bookings, but Sundays are an exception. Being so near to Christmas it was quite difficult to get a table, we were only confirmed the day before as there was a cancellation because of the snow. As many other reviews state, the no bookings policy during the week can be a pain and waiting a couple of hours for a table appears pretty common. However, they make it very clear that this is how they operate, so just relax at the bar and build up an appetite, it will be totally worth it.

We hit the jackpot with the menu, they were serving what they described as a “Goose Fest”.

To start with was salt cod soup which was thick and very warming. It had some crunchy croutons, flakes of salt cod and little pieces of chestnut to add a festive touch. It was pretty filling but all too tempting to jump at the offer of seconds from a waiter who came round with a large urn to refill anyone who was running low.

As the soup bowls were being cleared, we could see a row of large roasted geese lining up on top of the pass. They were golden and crispy-skinned and all doubt of whether we were going to get to carve our own vanished when a set of carving apparatus was plonked down in the middle of the table. To accompany the goose was cabbage three ways – brussel sprouts with bacon, braised red cabbage and shredded white cabbage.

While we set to carving and dishing up, another whole plate of ready carved meat was put on the table too, just in case we ran out. I don’t think there was to be any danger of that as the food kept on coming. We noticed once we’d finished carving that we hadn’t been given any gravy. This was quickly rectified and a four litre jug was handed over, much to our delight, nothing is more annoying than a pub roast that scrimps on the gravy.

Before we passed out from over-eating the table was cleared and pudding arrived. This was buttermilk pudding with roasted, caramelised pears. It was a relief not to see any sponge or crumble as we were deliriously full at this stage. The buttermilk pudding was the texture of pannacotta, but had an almost tart yoghurty flavour and was a perfect palette cleanser. The pears were golden and sweet and they worked wonderfully with the refreshing buttermilk.

Successfully revived by the pudding, we settled back into our chairs and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. We weren’t asked to leave at any point, but got the message around 6pm when chairs were being stacked.

The only down-side is that it’s not cheap. The three course meal was £42 per head - I’m not sure if this is the cost every Sunday, or if the goose-fest ramped it up a little but either way it’s pricier than your average Sunday lunch. That said, it’s not your average Sunday lunch so if you want to have a roast that stands out from the rest, book up The Anchor & Hope. I’m looking forward to a weekday visit, hopefully very soon. By all accounts the food will maintain the high standards that this Sunday lunch has set.