I’ve never really found it difficult to write a review before. It’s pretty straight forward to mercilessly lambast anywhere that’s truly dreadful (The Star of Kings, The Draft House) and those places that deserve praise make it pretty easy to lavish it upon them (The Dove, The Euston Tap). The Old Ship seen through my eyes is utterly brilliant though I’m acutely conscious of the fact that the quirks I find fun and endearing might lead someone else to think it’s awful so I’m going to have to try hard to be fair.
Set on a wide road next to a very quaint public park The Old Ship forms part of a little oasis of calm in the otherwise industrial and traffic heavy area. The bunting that hangs around the walls inside and out is a fairly good indicator of the tone throughout the bar. It’s cheerful on a budget. You strongly get the impression that everything here is done with the best of intentions but isn’t quite hitting the spot. The yet to be painted DJ booth, the pool table which has never been in the same room as a spirit level and the drinks offers felt tipped onto cardboard neon stars are all perfect examples. It’s all a little bit pants but at the same time totally brilliant.
Quite proudly offered on a Sunday is cabaret which never fails to make The Old Ship feel like a condensed version of Blackpool pier. Singers and drag queens proudly strut their funky stuff on the postage stamp size stage with raucous aplomb. The quiz night on a Wednesday is also well worth dropping into too. Fast paced with non of the usual faffing about makes it perfect for a mid week quiz; if you’re lucky you’ll get a bit of acid tongued banter from the host, not so lucky and you’ll be stung with a surprise round from hell (Liza Minnelli on my last punt).
Beer selection is minimal with only two draft ales on offer and no hope of a guest. However it is insanely cheap here and even has a drinks ‘Happy Period’ (?!!) on before 7pm weekdays when a pint of IPA is £2.50 making me feel more than ever like I’ve wandered into Limehouse’s answer to The Phoenix Club. Every now and again there are some snacky treats on the bar such as miniature sausage rolls and crisps. I’ve never bothered to ask why but if I did I’m confident I’d get a warm response from whoever was manning the bar.
Strictly speaking The Old Ship is a gay pub though I’m not sure that’s really important as it’s the personality of the place that ought to make you want to go rather than you intentions to do a bit of same sex snogging. If you’re looking for ‘ye olde worlde’ charm, river views or a great selection of beers then this isn’t the place for you. If you want a really laid back atmosphere, a quiet game of pool and a cheap pint then it certainly is.
On a side note if you do go could you ask why there’s a kettle on the carpet plugged in underneath the coat hooks and let me know?