You wouldn’t be alone if you thought Victor Harbor was all velour tracksuits, white sneakers, occasional school leavers meandering through the streets, and a whole lot of 5.30pm dinners. It is all those things. But it’s also more. Past the quaint main street, over the railway line, and conveniently perched across from the bowls club is The Anchorage.
This Adelaide Hills gal finds her way to Victor Harbor a handful of times each year. And there are a couple of spots I must hit and some things I must do: I need to stock up on greens and almonds at the Victor Harbor Farmers’ Markets; I like to walk across to Granite Island and high five the penguins; I need to have my fill at The Anchorage; and once that’s all done, I pillage Target Country for flannelette pajamas with impish creatures on them.
Smacked in the face with an icy puff of air straight off the sea is the perfect way to wake from a snoozy 90-minute car ride. Indeed, the iciness made me want a warming glass of red and a something delicious to eat even more. And in the dull evening light, The Anchorage, with it’s glossy-white trimmed windows, oozed ease and relaxation – all those things synonymous with a quaint and quiet Victor Harbor.
Despite rustic big beams and giant chains overhead, roughed up, pitted gravelly ground, and a smattering of wooden tables, The Anchorage glows in soft light and has a air of elegance about it. While a counter, glass cake display, coffee machine, and further down, a boat-like bar, line one side of the back room, a barrel fire sits on the other. Blackened, but with smudgy copper accents, you can’t see any flames, but if you walk anywhere near it, you certainly realise it must be full of them. It’s comfortably cozy.
To be a good food blogger you must not eat the same meal twice… apparently. The quest for new things is indeed exciting, I’ll admit that, but there’s also a heavenly comfort in the known. Don't tell the food blog kings, but I almost always eat the same thing at the same place. And at The Anchorage that’s the gosh-darn delectable squid. It’s almost like the inkers themselves floated in on that icy sea breeze, and for the good of the locals, sacrificed themselves to the pan. For me, there’s extra comfort in ordering the same dish again and again. It’s the anticipation of a good thing, the countdown during the day to that favourite meal, and the teaming of that with good wine and great company that makes the experience a quality one.
A mix of chill out tracks, pop songs, and jazz numbers whispers through the speakers. The shellacked boat bar glistens, and sitting satisfied, we watch on as a kind waitress clears our table. A group of 5 silver-haired ladies have folded their napkins, and squeakily wiggled their chairs out from under the table. The table next to the barrel fire is now empty, bar a few glasses, after a fresh-faced, swept-fringe guy, and his long-locked girlfriend finished their meal and left.
Having bypassed the sweets, paid the bill, and chatted with the staff, we rolled out of the beachside cocoon and back into the company of the salty frost air. Leaving the glow of the eatery behind, we powered to the car, ramped up the heaters, and pulled out from the curb. If Victor Harbor is a sleepy town, then The Anchorage is a dream. It’s warm and heaps satisfying. Not even free entry to the Whale Centre could knock it off my list.