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Salud! Cheers! Na Zdrowie! : Times Writers' Concise Correspondents Course in Cosmopolitan Conviviality

March 16, 1986|Tyler Marshall

LONDON — The rows of drab warehouses that line the south bank of the Thames are hardly a mecca for international tourists, but just a few minutes' walk from the London Bridge underground station, sandwiched between a vacant lot and a railroad abutment, is one of the city's coziest historic pubs--The Anchor.

The building is only a little more than 200 years old, but its style and decor, replete with bare wooden floors and open coal fires, are reminiscent of its predecessors. There was an Anchor at the same site in the 16th Century, and it helped make the area one of the most colorful in London. The lot next door was the site of the original Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare's plays were first performed. And the infamous Southwark prison once stood across the street. One of the Anchor's five bars is named for it, with some chilling paraphernalia decorating the walls.

Among the Anchor's clientele in the pub's heyday was Samuel Johnson. Also, there is reason to believe that it was at the Anchor that Samuel Pepys wrote his compelling description of the Great Fire that destroyed much of London in 1666.

Today, the terrace and upstairs dining room command one of the best views across the river to St. Paul's Cathedral and the part of London's financial district known as the City.

In recent years, the Anchor has been owned by the makers of Courage beer, and the bars offer a variety of the brewery's real ales, as well as the usual selection of other beers and hard liquor.

The Anchor has been upgraded in the past year and is gaining a modest reputation for its fresh fish.

A table with a view should be booked a day in advance. The cost of a full dinner for two runs about $60.

But the Anchor's principal attraction is its charm--sipping a real ale on the terrace in summer or snuggled up with a tot of brandy beside a coal fire in winter.

The Anchor, Bankside, Southwark, London SE1 9DN. Phone: 407-1577.

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