‘Two Dirty Tackles please’
As I inflicted the nonplussed bar staff to a snorting chortle at this utterly hilarious double entendre and received in turn a weary and knowingly glare I stood in one of Holborn’s most long standing establishments; The Ship Tavern professes to have been around for over 500 years in one form or another. In times past it’s quenched the thirst of the hard working farmers of Lincolns Inn Fields or hidden rogue priests from protestant persecution. These days the clientele is less exotic and on a Saturday afternoon in February was sheltering a collection of damp people watching news about some wet people in Somerset trying to paddle to the shops in a chest of drawers and some cold people in Russia sliding down things in interesting ways.
Tucked up a side street off the Kingsway this pub is just enough off the beaten track to feel like it’s in ‘Ye Olde London’ and is thankfully still rather charming. I will note for the future that subjecting the staff to testicle based puns is a good way of testing out if they’re nice or not, perhaps I’ll ask for ‘Two large ones’ next time and see what happens. On this occasion I however it went down as well as any Carry On standard joke would do and prompted a husky voiced landlady to tell me that they were running low on ‘Dirty Tackle’ as one bloke kept on coming in to order it but only from the younger barmaid who at that point ion time was handling some large jugs. Ooo err Vicar.
Back to the pub. Though recently refurbished The Ship Tavern still feels vaguely authentic, not in the way that nearby The Princess Louise does, but in a cosy and warm way with wood panels and a suitably Ship themed collection of junk nailed to the walls. Plenty of secluded little nooks and crannies make this an intimate little venue if you really want it to be and there is an ‘Oak Room’ up stairs for more formal dining. The bar menu does however cover most of the bases including very reasonably priced sausage rolls and scotch eggs – ‘Cutty Sark’ and ‘Fox and Anchor’ take note.
Whilst this isn’t a stratospherically amazing pub it was unpretentious, homely and a perfectly nice place in which to knock back a couple of beers. A half decent ale selection, dedicated mid week pie night and prices which by London standards don’t take the piss all add up to me giving this place a fairly sound endorsement.