Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Old Ship

God hates me, he must, it's true. I lived in Hackney for around 18 months and in all that time my local pub was the Old Ship. One entrance is on Mare Street where you have a small door sandwiched between a mini-cab office and a local grocers(I say grocers...it also does groceries), blink and you'll miss it. on the other side you have a 'proper' pub entrance as seen in the pic. This is in a back alley and is next to the stage door of the Hackney Empire. All a bit backwards then.
Now, the reason God hates me is that every time I have gone into my now ex-local, I tried the real ale, it should be good, they're easy enough beers to keep. On one Pump there was Timothy Taylors Landlord, a good beer that I like when it's served well. On the other pump there is London Pride, not a bad beer but certainly not a favourite and every now and again I would spot Deuchars IPA on the other hand pump(generally left turned around though), this beer has recently plummeted in my estimation, I haven't had a decent pint of this for a few years now.
Until Saturday Lucille and I had only eaten in there on a handful of occasions not being massively impressed by the menu or the service.
On Saturday this changed, we were collecting the last of our belongings from our old residence and popped in to The Old Ship for dinner as we had both been working and neither of us had eaten. Having been disappointed with the cask ale selection and standards I went for a pint of Guinness instead of the bottled meantime they have in there. I go to Guinness as a fall back from time to time when feeling uninspired and this was one such occasion.
We were given the menus by a very nice waitress who asked us if we'd been in before and took us through the range of four or five specials.
Now I won't go into the full menu but needless to say it's good British contemporary food that you might expect at a gastropub. Lucille went for the Wild Boar sausage and Mashed Potato and I went for the Lamb Shank with Bubble and Squeak.
Oh my, what a turn around, the food was presented perfectly(apart from the salad garnish on my plate, which I ate but found out afterwards from the manager that it wasn't supposed to be there!) it did look out of place and I made the point when he took our plates away at the end of the meal.
Presentation aside, the food was amazing, I cannot put enough emphasis on this, good service, great food and decent drink has rescued my opinion of this pub. The Lamb was cooked to perfection and the Bubble was awesome. It came with a veal jus too, not just a drip either but enough to make the meal nice and 'moistly edible'.
Lucille had been hesitant to order the sausage and mash(her fall back food in any pub) because of previous quality issues with the mash but apparently she enjoyed the whole meal immensely.
I don't know how long the current manager has been there but he seems to have turned this place around. The acid test would have been whether or not the cask ale was up to scratch, unfortunately I wasn't up for finding out.
The Old Ship is also a hotel which has rooms starting at about £65 a night I believe, gladly I never had to find out for sure!
So ironically I have left Hackney for the sunny climbs of St Reatham just as my local upped its game, shame that, I would have gone in an awful lot more.


Bailey said...

We popped into the Ship a couple of years back and quite liked it -- great building! We'd avoided it for years because, from Mare Street, it looks like a bit of a dive. The ale was just about OK. We liked it enough to convince the Beer Nut to stay there when he was visiting the Pig's Ear festival.

Chunk said...

Only slightly related to the topic, so apologies:

I do that with Guinness too. You can be sure that a place will have Guinness even if the only options are crap lager. Guinness is a good fall back drink.

Rabidbarfly said...

Bailey - it's a lovely bar with a good atmosphere but i've just never had a decent pint of cask ale in there. If they can work on it, and maybe throw in a guest ale once in a while, the place would be marvellous.
Chunk - agreed and I may be falling back onto a pint of the black stuff today at some point. Well, you have to today, dontcha?