Mark Dorber, the well-respected manager of London’s White Horse Pub in Parson’s Green, has opened the Anchor at Walberswick, on the Suffolk coast.
Dubbed ‘the Sloaney Pony’ for its upmarket Sloane Square-type clientele, the Victorian pub has long been known for its extensive cellar of cask-conditioned ales, well-chosen wine list and good food, developed during Dorber’s tenure.
‘We were a gastropub before the term was coined,’ said Dorber, who spent over 25 years building the pub’s encouraging White Horse customers to insist on interesting beer that have been properly stored and served. ‘But the emphasis has always been on “pub”.’
‘Too many people these days just want to operate restaurants on the cheap, but don’t know anything about what it takes to be a pub,’ Dorber said. ‘They end up with a mediocre restaurant masquerading as gourmet. If the first thing a pub customer sees is a set table, this destroys the presumption they are welcome to just have a drink.’
Throughout his tenure at the White Horse, Dorber retained a large stand-up bar and kept the tables at the front of the room unadorned, screening off a smaller restaurant area at the back.
The pub has long been a favourite of the wine trade, particularly those involved in the Decanter World Wine Awards competition, which takes place nearby.
Since the end of March, Dorber has been handing day-to-day management of the pub over to manager Sonia Harris, who has particular expertise in training and education.
‘We will continue to ensure this is the pub of choice for people with a passion for beer,’ said Harris. ‘We will also make it a centre of excellence for bar and restaurant staff who want to learn about storing and serving beer.’
Dorber will continue as consultant, and also concentrate on a bottled beer importing project, in addition to running the Anchor with his wife Sophie, who oversees the food side of the business.
Located 300 yards from the beach in Suffolk, the Anchor has two bars, a restaurant, a terrace and accommodation.
The White Horse is owned by Mitchells and Butlers.
Written by Maggie Rosen