It is a universally acknowledged truth that Londoners bloody love a beer garden. Come the summer, every square foot of outdoor space attached to a bar is taken up, while in the winter; even the chilliest of nights doesn’t put off a group that are happy to swaddle themselves in blankets and huddle beneath a patio heater. Finding a decent pub with such a space is a delightful treat, like when your bus arrives just as you reach your stop, or when you see a dog on the tube. One such venue is the Hope & Anchor in Brixton, which I popped along to just before Christmas to see if it could become a new al fresco fave.
Having gone through a very recent refurb, the pub homes a smorgasbord of intriguing arty trinkets. A pair of lady's legs void of a torso sprouting some pretty foliage are by the front door, and there's a faceless stag-head on the wall over-looking the bar and its dining tables. They also boast a cool neon fireplace, which was flanked by Christmas stockings when we visited! Some walls are papered with brightly coloured florals, while others have murals of city-scapes and dinosaurs. This venue wears many hats.
Outside is the beer garden to rival them all: a Tiki paradise with huts that can hold groups of up to 25 and an outside tequila bar that keeps the margaritas flowing all-year round. Pretty fairy lights hang around the parameter, and dotted around are fire-pits to provide warmth and a sexy flicker of light when the sun disappears. DJs play on Fridays to take you into the weekends, while the weekends themselves have cocktail brunches and Sunday lunches with a vinyl record soundtrack.
Food & Drink
Much like the décor of the place, the menu is eclectic and varied. My date ordered tactfully so that he could try more things on the menu, which meant choosing a few of the starters rather than just hitting up a main. He wolfed down a bowl of sticky, messy chicken wings (£7) covered in hot sauce with a Stilton mayo to calm the heat, making the already juicy wings even better. He seemed to have a delicious - if caveman-esque - time with the bowl.
Our waitress recommended the bowl of baked eggs (£8) with chorizo, tomato, butterbeans, yoghurt and spices, and we both dug into them together. Despite any form of bean being my nemesis, the rest of this dish was tasty, with a mix of complementary flavours from the saltiness of the chorizo to the smooth, coolness of the yoghurt.
While my date feasted on his banquet of treats - and after I stole more than my fair share - I dug into my choice of Cornish crab 'nduja and Ogleshield mac n' cheese (£11.50), arriving piping hot with a crispy cheese lid that provided texture for the smooth, creamy pasta beneath. It rounded off a delicious array of comfort food, and with the Tiki surroundings, we were especially warmed up for the winter.
To wash it down, we both enjoyed a couple of refreshing gin & tonics from their long gin list, though their cocktail menu is fun and packed with interesting spins on well known concoctions if you fancy something a little more adventurous.
Drinking outside will always be one of the best pastimes any Londoner can enjoy, and when beer gardens are as cool as this one, it just makes al fresco drinking even better. With awesome Instagrammable décor, a varied menu of food and drink, and banging tunes to get your weekend started, The Hope & Anchor is a great South London spot to enjoy with a group.