The pub culture in London is something that I have always loved. Whether it’s grabbing a pint after work, watching the football on the weekend or simply getting together for a few drinks with friends, pubs are a huge part of everyone’s social life and one of the things that makes London so special! When I studied abroad a few years ago, the first thing we all wanted to do was go to a traditional British pub. We ended up at one of those “Great British Pub Food pubs” every time because we didn’t know any better and always left disappointed in the food. Lots has changed since those days and I have found quite a few good go-to pubs. I was thrilled when I was asked to review The Ship Tavern, a quintessentially British pub tucked away down a side street in Holborn.
The Ship Tavern has a bar downstairs and a lovely dining room upstairs. Aptly named the Oak Room, the first floor dining room is filled with candelabras on the tables, a rip roaring fire and cosy booths. I really liked the classic Dickensian decor and relaxed atmosphere.
I had been sick for more than a week, and it was really nice to get out of our house and enjoy a glass of red wine and some hearty food.
To start, we ordered the Wild Mushrooms flashed with brandy, parsley and garlic along with toasted brioche and a rocket salad on top with herb oil. I absolutely loved this dish. The brioche was included in the bowl along with the mushrooms and it had soaked up all of the delicious juices from the herb oil. It was a really warming dish that I would love to recreate at home.
We also ordered the Seared King Scallops with rabbit and sage meatballs, garden pea puree and lemongrass oil. The combination of the rabbit and sage meatballs with the scallops was rather interesting as the scallops were quite light and the meatballs were really rich. They balanced each other well though!
In all the time I’ve been in England, I have yet to try Beef Wellington! I’m really glad I tried it at the Ship Tavern for the first time, because it was absolutely delicious. Served with white truffle mash, curly kale and a red wine jus, this fillet inside was perfectly pink and tender and I really enjoyed the chicken liver and mushroom pâté. The moment this dish came out, the smell of truffles enveloped our table. Even the kale was delicious as it absorbed some of the truffle flavour that had seeped into the jus. This dish was hearty, warming, and the portion size was very generous. It’s comfort food at it’s best.
I ordered the Pan Fried Sea Bass with potted brown shrimps, bok choi, mashed potato and hollandaise. This was again, another very filling and generously sized dish. The sea bass was perfectly seasoned and well cooked and the sauce was rich and thick. I really enjoyed this dish, but I personally wish there hadn’t been as much sauce, as I felt it overwhelmed the dish the delicate fish. With that said, Ciaran loved the amount of sauce that accompanied it, so it really depends on personal taste! All in all though, it was another hearty dish that was great on a cold winter’s day.
As full as we were, we couldn’t leave without trying the Downie’s Brownie, named after the Chef himself, Michael Downie. We had chatted with him for a little while and he told us he had conceived the entire menu himself that celebrates British culture with a bit of flair from his eclectic background. Originally from Jamaica, Chef Michael moved to Boston when he was growing up and eventually graduated from the Culinary Institute in New York City. Afterwards, he moved to Yorkshire and trained at various kitchens there. It’s always nice to speak to the Chef and hear about what inspires the various dishes on the menu. He told us everything on the menu is made entirely at the Ship Tavern, and it showed!
The Downie’s Brownie didn’t disappoint and we ordered the 1549 Real Ale Ice Cream, which I loved with the brownie! The chocolate sauce had a hint of raspberry to it and it was the ideal way to end our absolutely delicious meal!
If you’re visiting London or live in this glorious city, pay a visit to The Ship Tavern for some hearty and elevated pub food and quintessentially British atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed!
*We were guests of The Ship Tavern, but all views and opinions are my own.
The Ship Tavern
12 Gate Street