Sinking Feeling at The Old Ship

Things just aren't what they used to be down on the river


The Old Ship, 25 Upper Mall Hammersmith London W6 9TD 020 8748 2593


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If the old adage ‘location, location, location,’ is true then The Old Ship needn’t concern itself with credit crunches for few can boast a setting such as theirs. However, with so much competition on and around the river for drinking and dining there is no time to sit on laurels.

I have been a fan of The Old Ship for many years finding it one of the few ‘adult’ places where all generations are well catered for but the slide in standards over recent months is becoming increasingly irksome. I assume this is down to the fact that former management headed by Nicole have decamped to Australia but it’s no excuse, surely standards are easier to maintain rather than be aspired to?

Of course not having semi-skimmed milk isn’t the end of the world; nor is being unable to produce half the brunch menu on Sunday morning at 10.45, but I find it annoying.

The Old Ship, which can be traced back as far as the 1722 census, bills itself as the ‘perfect place to for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a beer, some wine, a coffee or a juice, just some time to get away and bask in the glorious weather, or shelter from its vagaries on one of those days.’ Six months ago I would have eagerly agreed however not so much anymore.

I visited with a friend during the week for our regular ‘put the worlds to right’ dinner date. At 7.30pm there was one girl serving around twenty customers most of whom were also wanting to eat.

We ordered spicy marinated chicken with sweet chilli sauce £8.50, grilled seabass with garlic new potatoes and baby spinach £11.50 (which for some reason was marked with a ‘v’ for vegetarian) and a bottle of Coto Crianza Rioja £18.10 bringing our bill to £38.10.

My chicken arrived promptly, pleasantly marinated with a mound of run-of-the-mill fries and a generous salad but without a drop of sweet chilli sauce. The grilled seabass was the more successful of the two meals retaining its simplicity leaving the freshness of the food to speak for itself.

We were uninspired by the dessert menu which was a real shame for me as I had already considered my initial title “dessert in a sinking ship” to be one of my better ones. That said, we did overhear the lone member of staff explain to two fellow diners that a number of desserts were not available.

Instead we asked for two skinny cappuccinos to round the meal off but were informed they “didn’t do skimmed milk” or indeed semi-skimmed. We chose to go without though amused by my ridiculousness after consuming a pile of chips and the best part of a bottle of wine before declining full fat milk “That’s like believing a diet coke cancels out the calories in a Big Mac!” my friend laughed.

Doesn’t it?

Emma Brophy

November 21, 2008