I find that much of life is ruled by diaries and plans and thus a note of spontaneity is always a joy. So when my daughter, Nicola, rang me at around 10am to ask if I was free for a late lunch, I was pleased to be able to say that, yes, I was indeed free! Nicola and Rachael live in Worcestershire but were spending the week in a cottage in Sussex for a short holiday and she’d managed to get an appointment with our dentist, Marc, at Mortiboys Dental Spa in Effingham around lunchtime as they were reasonably close by. They had their Labrador, Willow, with them, so they’d googled to find a dog-friendly place to eat. And so we ended up at The Anchor at Pyrford Lock, Wisley – very close to RHS Wisley Gardens, and very close to Mortiboys. We agreed to meet there at 2pm.
It was my third time to Wisley in 5 days … my car needed no instructions … a visit to Wisley Gardens on Saturday with my son, my own visit to Marc on Tuesday, and then today for lunch with my daughter and daughter-in-law. It’s a familiar area and whenever I’m there I love to go into Wisley Gardens. But no dogs allowed, so not today. Looking on a Google map on my computer this morning, I could see it was an easy route to The Anchor, past the entrance to the Gardens, through Wisley village and staying on the same road – Wisley Lane – to the pub. I imagined a small quaint old pub by the river. For this Londoner it looked on the map – at the end of the Lane – to be in the ‘middle of nowhere’. I was therefore surprised to turn up and find a very large pub with a large – and almost full – car park.
Inside it was full too. We were told we’d have to wait 10 minutes for a table and sat in some nice comfy armchairs while we waited (clearly booking is a good idea if you’re not being spontaneous). It really was a short wait and the friendly waiter took us to our table and asked if we wanted him to bring drinks.
They have an extensive menu offering a full Starters/Main Course/Desserts lunch, Salads, Burgers, and a sandwich menu too. The ‘girls’ went with burgers. Nicola had a Chicken Caesar Burger with ‘smoked streaky bacon, melted Monterey Jack cheese and Caesar Mayo’ (£12.50). It looked good and apparently tasted very good! (You can also spy a wistful Willow in the photo below – ‘And what have you ordered for me?’)
Rachael, a vegetarian, went for the Falafel Burger with ‘double stacked falafel patties seasoned with Mediterranean herbs & spices topped with vegan burger sauce’ (£12.50). She also opted to pay extra for ‘Triple Cooked Chips & Malt Vinegar Mayo’ (£4). She said it was good and the falafels were great; often they can be dry but these weren’t – just really good.
I took a much healthier route. Not for any supposed virtuous reason but simply because I don’t like heavy meals at lunchtime. And the Vitality Salad did sound good: ‘tender stem broccoli, wilted rainbow chard, carrot, roasted beetroot, pomegranate seeds, rocket, spring onion, cherry tomatoes & toasted pine nuts’ (£10.50). What’s not to like! I also chose to add some Feta cheese for an extra £1.50.
It was really, really good. And a good size portion too. Everything was so fresh and tasty and I enjoyed it a lot.
So … having been ‘healthy’ for my main, I decided to throw ‘being good’ to the wind and have a dessert. Well, Rachael was having one too. Nicola – at 8-months pregnant – wasn’t sure she had room but maybe she could share mine? So an extra spoon was asked for.
I chose the Apple & Sultana Crumble (£6.25) which came with a choice of custard or ice cream. It was nice and I liked the topping with some added oats, but I found it a little too sweet – so Nicola got more than she might otherwise have done!
Rachael had St Clements Sponge – orange-flavoured sponge with custard, which she enjoyed.
Rachael and I had coffee to finish. It had been a very good lunch – what a find! And they were indeed very dog-friendly and so Willow was happy too. A perfect place to make a trip to for a lunch out on a nice day. A little sadly it was pouring with rain … the heatwave had turned to a cool day and downpour. However, by the time we’d finished our meal, the rain had stopped so after paying the bill, we went out the back way on to their terrace. This sits by the banks of the river Wey. A large raft of ducks were gently paddling along; a couple of narrow boats were moored nearby. It was such a lovely setting.
We took a slightly circuitous route back to the car park via the towpath, towards the lock. I went on to it to take a photo looking back.
The Anchor is open all day every day for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, Sunday lunch and dinner. They also have a kids’ menu. The pub had been an unexpectedly great find at the end of a narrow Surrey lane … definitely somewhere to head to again.