One issue I have found with Walton is that there is no restaurant in the town centre that has really grabbed my attention. It has the usual chains in any new development; Giraffe, Pizza Express, Carluccio's but a limited selection of independents. In addition I'm afraid that the town centre pubs are also typical of their kind up and down the country.
Luckily, less than half a mile from the town centre there are two great pubs literally next door to each other on the river towpath. The Swan is a Young's pub with a fantastic beer garden and what looks like a good BBQ menu. For this reason it is generally packed on a nice day. The Anglers is a slightly different proposition being much more food-oriented and a definite destination for a nice meal.
Its a real shame but I don't think we've made it up to the riverfront this summer until earlier this week. Its a good two mile walk away but that shouldn't have dissuaded us. I think we have just been distracted by all the possibilities of finally owning a car!
With this in mind and remembering a couple of nice meals enjoyed in the past we waited for a brief lapse in the bank holiday showers and sauntered along the Thames from Cowey Sale to the The Anglers - along a section of the river that we have enjoyed walking along before. For the history fans out there this is where Julius Caesar is said to have crossed the Thames during the initial Roman invasion of these isles.
The Anglers itself definitely looks like a riverside building, or perhaps something one would expect to find nestling beside a sleepy lake somewhere in the Deep South. The interior downstairs is from the school of gastropub 101 but the upstairs room must be one of the great places to view the Thames - with rowers from the local clubs constantly zipping back and forth and the lucky owners of small boats enjoying the river. Outside is what must be an exclusive terrace - exclusive in the respect that it is always full by the time I get there.
|The Anglers - Walton-on-Thames|
I believe The Anglers may have new menu - its certainly changed and upped its game since the last time we were here. There were also 3 real ales on tap including an excellent Sharp's Own of which I sampled a couple as well as a selection of Lock Fyne Oysters that went down well with the provided shallot vinegar (£2 an oyster)
|The Anglers menu|
|Bread selection at the Anglers|
|Loch Fyne oysters|
My main course was the day's market special; a well-presented Bacon-wrapped Sea-Trout with Parsley Pesto, new potatoes and Samphire. The Sea-trout was moist and flaked nicely and was set-off well by the piquant pesto. I have to admit to loving Samphire when its paired with a nicely cooked piece of fish and this didn't disappoint.
|Sea-Trout from The Anglers.|
Also tried by me was the pan-roasted chicken with potatoes, broad beans, chorizo crisps and tarragon cream. Normally chorizo will dominate any dish but here it was tempered well by the tarragon cream laced with peppercorns to give a well-balanced flavour. A good dish.
|Pan-roasted chicken from The Anglers.|
Spiced-pork chipolatas, fried potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and tomato and apple chutney did exactly what it said on the tin. These may not be exciting flavours but it was a well-executed plate - just one that I would not order myself given the other options.
|Spicy Pork Chipolatas at The Anglers|
I do like the portion sizing for most of the dishes here which should allow most people to comfortably try 3 courses. Given it was lunch we did skip starters but these look equally good. There are more substantial options though including that tried by one member of our party. Scotch eggs were substantial with a rich orangey yolk but the Deep Fried Potatoes would have fed an army.
|Scoth Egg at The Anglers.|
|Deep-Fried potatoes at The Anglers|
Desserts were very good. First up was a deconstructed Sipsmith Gin-and-Tonic trifle; the custard was homemade and the gin-and-tonic jelly tasted potent. The only thing we thought was odd is that of course the sponge wasn't soaked in booze like it normally is - all in all though it was a thought-provoking dessert well worth the purchase. Well done to The Anglers on this one.
|Sipsmith Gin-and-Tonic trifle.|
The other dessert sampled by the table was an Eton Mess with Chocolate syrup. I'm loathe to write too much about this as I know just how easy these are to make - however that does not take away from the interesting presentation and the quality of the dish. Recommended.
|Eton Mess at The Anglers|
On balance I'd say that The Anglers is the best meal out I've had in the immediate area. Putting this in context I mean that this is a very good example of a gastropub which is a definite local destination - however would I recommend someone travel for an hour across London to go to it? Not quite - there are other good examples of the kind in most affluent neighbourhoods and villages both in and outside the Capital. This should in no way take-away from my view that The Anglers offers a quality meal out in a fantastic location - there should be only one choice if you find yourself in Walton-on-Thames or are enjoying the Thames Path walk from Hampton Court. If you live locally it is an absolute no-brainer.
A 2-course lunch for 2 people with drinks and service would be around the £50 mark.