Friday, June 01, 2007

The Anchor Bar & Restaurant

This is a review of the Anchor from the local bar & restaurant guide The Menu (

The dive bar to end all dive bars, equally beloved by locals and students for its time-frozen charm

Traditional American cuisine
Located near the Green in New Haven’s Theatre District
$11 average price for a meal and drink

Overall rating: 6.5/10
Food: 5.7/10
Atmosphere: 9.0/10
Attitude: 4.0/10
Value: 7.0/10

Full bar
No credit cards accepted

For a real drink at a real bar, any night you please, the Anchor is the obvious choice—we might say the only choice. There may be no better-preserved, no more self-consciously hip postwar watering hole in New Haven. And no local bar is such a perennial and reliable crowd-pleaser. In the very heart of town, this is the beloved favorite of generations of Taft residents, law and grad students, and just about everyone else in New Haven with a taste for kitsch, cheap beer, a wink, and a smile. The Anchor serves passable, well-priced comfort food at lunchtime: burgers and traditional American classics like liver, bacon, and onions (yeah!). But the Anchor comes into its own during the post-school hours, as the crowd slowly starts to assemble.
     Fast-forward seven hours. It’s packed. The last shift of Roomba and Union League kitchen staff sidles up to the bar. Regulars have commandeered their usual tables, and the jukebox is stacked with classics. Grad students squirm in their plastic booths, sitting knee to knee in observance of some irrational fire code prohibiting more comfortable configurations. Gone, sadly, are the $1.75 bottles of Schaefer’s on Mondays; they’ve been replaced by cans of Rheingold, another nostalgic American beer. “How’s the Rheingold?” we asked our server one day. “Terrible,” he answered. So of course we had to order one. Right he was—it tasted like sweetened dishwashing detergent.
     The bartenders turn into psychotic last last-call drill sergeants at the untimely hour of 12:45. (Anchor closes a little early. Always. Even the clock on the wall is fast.) As regulars whine and guzzle while intimidated novices file out obediently, the jukebox calmly spins its classic tunes. Life is as it should be at the Anchor, and we only wish that the soundtrack could follow us home.