In 1993, this Grade II listed pub received an English Heritage / CAMRA restoration award, so when in 2007 the Fox & Anchor suddenly closed its doors, it seemed yet another Smithfield pub had been lost.
Re-opened and refreshed, the new owner has made two key changes; a vastly improved menu and the addition of six luxury bedrooms. The Fox's new status as a small hotel has not significantly affected the pub, yet offers guests accommodation on a friendlier scale than its corporate competitors and a good pub at the bottom of the stairs. However this is no travel lodge, room rates start at £165 per night, although there are special offers.
The mangey fox that once sat above the main door has gone and the pub looks better for it. A smart new pewter topped bar counter and some comfortable furnishings give a cleaner edge but the cosy and intimate booths at the rear are unchanged and the pub has retained its relaxed, low key Edwardian charm.
Drinkers are encouraged by six, diverse real ales (served in pewter tankards) and a microbrewed lager. There's an extensive wine list too. The line between pub and restaurant is a fine one and the Fox & Anchor seems to have pulled it off. The menu is tempting and imaginative, mostly classic British dishes, including steak and oyster pie, made with fresh ingredients, expertly cooked.
The Fox & Anchor remains one of London's unique late Victorian pubs, its glazed ceramic tile façade is both curious and beautiful. Smithfield is losing its pubs and it is good to see a sensitive conversion, which will hopefully, guarantee its future for the next generation of pub lovers. .
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