Where To Eat When You’re An Anchovy Freak

On a skewer, draped over bread, or lazing in a pool of oil—here's where to eat anchovies in London.
Where To Eat When You’re An Anchovy Freak image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Certain foods inspire weird, fanatical, and groupie-like obsessions. Anchovies are one of them. Lots of people are salty about the little fish, but for those who worship at the altar of the anchovy, there is no better addition to a menu or dish. Sometimes used as seasoning and other times enjoyed in all their glory, the anchovy takes many forms on menus across London. These are the ones to seek out.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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Jalapeño popper gilda

In the relatively poky pantheon of seductive and small fish-based snacks, Rita’s gilda rates extremely highly. The cream cheese-stuffed olive, anchovy, and jalapeño creation arrives on a silver tray looking like an illicit treat from the future. As is Soho tradition, it’s best eaten with a very strong drink in your other hand. Like a martini, one isn’t enough but three is too many.

Egg mayonnaise and anchovy sandwich

Done correctly, the egg mayonnaise sandwich exemplifies all that is great about British cuisine. Terrible on paper, somehow worse on the eye, but actually a pretty delicious bite. It’s no surprise that Paul Rothe & Son knows that. The ancient Marylebone deli pairs a lively egg mayonnaise with springy white bread and a handful of gloriously saline anchovies on top. It’s perfect.

Cantabrian anchovies & rosemary oil 

Like an uncomfortably assured European nudist, the anchovies at Brawn come as is—laying proud, flat, and glistening in oil. They’re best paired with bread to mop up (but not cover) their delicate wonder. For the real anchovy heads, few things get better than a plate of these and a bottle of something funky at this Hackney modern European favourite.

Lamb and anchovy crumpet

The crumpet is a lesser-explored vehicle that, come 2040, Pret will have a take on. Until that underwhelming conclusion, Ploussard is showing how it should be done. The Clapham modern European restaurant has paired meltingly tender lamb with its old friend anchovy, alongside capers and a chive beanie.

Grilled bread with anchovy

If there was a cover star for London’s anchovy dishes, then it may well be Brat’s flatbread. The bubbling pillow of dough topped with butter, chives, and three lazily bathing fish is more photogenic than a WAG in the mid-2000s. If there’s a better combination to start a meal at the seafood spot in Shoreditch, we’re yet to eat it.

Nasi lemak

On any given weekday in Clerkenwell you’ll find a committed group of anchovy allies waiting to enjoy Dapur at lunchtime. A plate of nasi lemak at this little Malaysian cafe guarantees both salty fish and whacks of flavour. Crisp white fish, rice, rich beef rendang, and dalca sayur isn’t something you should eat politely, but shovel unashamedly.

Egg mayonnaise

For some people, the idea of eating a hard-boiled egg is hellish. To others, mayonnaise is known as ‘the devil’s conditioner’ and anchovies are best left in horror films. Thankfully none of these people will be found in British restaurant Café Deco, where all three are combined to make one of the finest, most luscious pre-dinner snacks in Bloomsbury and beyond.

Anchovies with cold butter and St. John sourdough

Your da’ will sit down at this new old-school Italian and point out that ‘this is assembly, not cookery’, but he’ll have less complaints about this than anything from IKEA. Everything about Trattoria Brutto in Clerkenwell is expertly done and the combination of perfect twirls of butter with salty fish and bread is no different.

photo credit: Daisy Meager



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Arguably no restaurant has done more for Team Anchovy than Quality Wines and its mass introduction of the gilda to London. The Farringdon wine bar introduced the joy of the little olive, guindilla chilli, and anchovy pintxo to many across the city and now no aperitivo hour seems right without it.

Sage and anchovy fritti

Every restaurant in the world should have a snack that you could, conceivably, eat all night. With your first drink until your last drink, from light until dark. This fritti is that snack. The batter is as light as a choirboy’s whisper and inside is anchovy carefully sandwiched between a sage leaf. It’s salty, savoury, and your hands won’t be able to resist one more. Find it at chic British spot Cafe Cecilia in London Fields.

Boquerones on toast

On first glance you may be concerned that this pub in Upper Holloway has diverted the entirety of the world’s anchovy supply onto your slice of sourdough. The vinegar-y delights of boquerones aren’t just much appreciated at the Landseer Arms, but worshipped with arguably London’s most generous £6.50 portion of anchovies, anywhere.

Anything with anchovy

A stalwart of British dining in Farrindgon, it’s no surprise that St. John uses anchovies not just as an ingredient but as a seasoning, a condiment, and an umami wallop across many dishes, all of the time. Be it paired with vegetables, blitzed into a dip, or scattered among gem lettuce.

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