The Anthologist, City of London

An Anthology of Food and Drink in the City

v. an·thol·o·gizedan·thol·o·giz·ingan·thol·o·giz·es
To compile or publish an anthology.
To include (material) in an anthology.

an·tholo·gistan·tholo·gizer n.

Noun 1. anthologist – an editor who makes selections for an anthology

The Anthologist in Gresham Street, is quite appropriately, a large city bar with a very wide selection of eclectic food and drinks including foraged cocktails and salads ‘from the Woods and Gardens’.  It’s right in the heart of the City, just off Bank, and on Tuesday lunchtime was packed with office workers.  I arrived early and my friend was running late, but they were kind enough to bring me a large board of bread and olives and some sparkling water to keep me going while he negotiated the vagaries of London Transport.

the anthologist - bread and olives

The interior is a large space and quite buzzy in the main dining areas, at least during lunch hour, but rather smartly, it’s been divided up into different types of seating areas (little booths, long bars, small tables and big communal ones).  We were seated in a pretty looking booth, on comfy armchairs that were just a little bit too big for the space allowed.  Since neither of us is that big, I did wonder how a chunkier city chap would cope though for us it was pretty perfect.  Service was very friendly and very fast.  And, watching other diners that appeared to be the rule – food and drinks arrived very quickly, although we could see that everything was freshly made in the open kitchen.

the anthologist tempura

Our starters were not in the least unpleasant, but if I’m brutally honest I’d sack the editor…my tempura crispy squid with ginger and citrus mayo seemed to have the same dense batter as the large baskets of beer battered  fish we saw being served elsewhere (or perhaps the fryer simply wasn’t quite hot enough)  and my friend’s ceviche was a lovely fresh crab and prawn salad with a grapefruit accompaniment rather than either fish appearing to have touched a citrus/chilli marinade.  Both dishes really lovely in their own right, but not quite what we expected from the description.

The Anthologist Ceviche

On to the main course,  I chose scallops with black pudding from the specials.  Now, unlike the main menu, this wasn’t marked up with ‘skinny’ options, although I suspect it could have been.  While the scallops were nicely cooked and the larger sort,  I do think three scallops and one slice of black pudding with a small salad is perhaps a little too much of a skinny dish for a main course.

the anthologist Scallops

Maybe it was intended as a starter, but at £15.95 against a menu where the standard starter pricing runs from £6-£8, it was an extremely expensive one.  My dining companion’s lobster burger looked remarkably like the lobster roll from Lobster and Burger, with a soft brioche roll filled with lobster mayo and micro herbs, and while he enjoyed it, again it wasn’t the dish he thought he’d ordered.

the anthologist lobster burger

For dessert I chose a crème brulee with lavender shortbread which was pretty and nicely presented.  Perhaps a little more of a burnt sugar topping would have been nice, but otherwise fine. The lavender shortbread was gorgeous, crispy and short with just a hint of lavender.  My dining companion’s dessert shots were very cute and a great idea for the sort of place where people are going to be sharing.

the anthologist creme brulee

We drank a bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc, which is priced just under £19.  The wine and cocktail list is very well priced and I really like the ‘skinny’ mark-up on both drinks and food, it’s a lot less intimidating than a full calorie count and still gives the information you need if, like me, you are trying to lose a bit of weight.  By the time we finished at around 2.30pm the restaurant was almost empty – five stars for impressively efficient and pleasant service.

the anthologist - dessert shots

So, for me the Anthologist wins points for a pleasant, vibrant and attractive space, great service and tasty food, with food and drinks at very good prices.  But, it does lose out on descriptions.  Some things really are not what it says on the tin.  And, I can’t believe there’s a dessert with NO calories at all (the Salted Caramel and Roasted Plum Knickerbocker glory is listed with the note ‘try me I have no calories!).  When I asked our waitress she was hesitant and couldn’t tell me…I’d love to know because I’d definitely take up residence!

All in, if I worked in the area I’d be happy to go there for lunch with friends or for drinks after work.  It’s good quality food at reasonable prices and the space is pleasant, clean and for the most part comfortable (I did like the little booths, just couldn’t see how two larger people would fit).  And the skinny tape-measure is a menu triumph for me at least and something I’d like to see other places copy.  It’s an interesting mix of drinks and bar food in a very relaxed, friendly space, with lots of options depending on whether you are eating alone, with a couple of friends or on a date or business meeting.

I dined at the invitation of:
The Anthologist
58 Gresham Street
Greater London EC2V 7BB
Anthologist on Urbanspoon
The Anthologist

3.5 / 5 stars     
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