Andrew Kay Dines – Old Ship Ahoy!
The first time I ate at The Old Ship it was all silver service and cropped mess jackets. The second time I sat next to Julie Burchill who sent back her steak when it arrived uncooked with a lava hot stone for her to cook it on– not her style at all.
Well things have changed and the restaurant now branded The WardRoom has certainly grown up. I guess we might have diminished
Impressive – stunningly presented but so much more!
expectations of restaurants in hotels but surely that is based on experiences way back in history. These days hotels are certainly upping the ante and not just for their guests but for the rest of us too.
I went along with my regular dining friend Mr L for a midweek dinner. It had been a hot day but the large room was cool and the views are second to none, especially from our window seat. Firstly I would commend the level of service from start to finish, charming and unhurried, classic presentation,attentive but not in your face, just what I enjoy.
The menu is small, not packed with predictable crowd pleasers but filled with the kind of dishes that I am used to finding on the menus of smaller independent eateries where everything is made on the premises. It was a good sign.
Mr L started with some rather amazing crispy wantons filled with coconut, satay, and fermented bok choy. It was good, it was generous and it was well balanced. My dish of seared mackerel was superb, a beautifully filleted piece of fish with an amazing mango sauce and samphire, I could not have been happier or more impressed, it looked and tasted wonderful.
Mr L moved on to guinea fowl which he declared was beautifully cooked and presented. It looked very fine indeed but what really impressed was that for a prettily plated dish it was not mean, and I think most of you know what I mean by that – pretty plates and scant portions – not here!
I chose the hake and loved it, a large piece of perfectly cooked fish served with ratte potatoes, asparagus, hazelnuts and mussel sauce. It was a superbly conceived and constructed dish, the hazelnuts and asparagus in plentiful surprise and the creamy mussel sauce beautifully flavourful. A side of buttered new potatoes was good but a second of his be cabbage with bacon lardons was just brilliant. I love it when side dishes show the same attention and care as the main events and in many restaurants this would have earned a place on the menu as a starter dish that’s for sure.
Desserts were equally impressive, stunningly presented but so much more. My apple and cinnamon cheese cake was artfully created and Mr L’scoffee and chocolate confection put a very big smile on his face.
We left the choice of wine to the delightful manager and she chose well, crisp, dry but full bodied white.
With sensible prices this has to be a place to return to – the chef Philis definitely one to watch.
The Old Ship Hotel, King’s Rd, Brighton BN1 1NR
Tel: 01273 329001