Shipped

Quite a week this. I am a lucky boy.

I say boy. I am thirty four on Thursday and I now spend longer shaving my ear lobes than I do funking up my hair. Such is my life. My shopping lists now invariably consist of Gaviscon and Marks and Spencer’s pants and I have to get up twice in the night to pee.

But, my flying monkeys, I’ve still got it. I can still turn my attention to a session, still rock the party.

No one says ‘rock the party’ do they?

Well I did and I will again Baby. At The Ship in Wandsworth last Saturday with my friends, and then tomorrow I am being taken to The Ledbury by my very beautiful, very out of my league, very much younger than me looking girlfriend.

So, The Ship. The Ship has always been part of the fabric of my London since I moved back here as an adult twelve years ago. I have three distinct Ship epochs. Number one, back in the day, it was a place to spend bank holiday weekends by the river before heading off to Embargos, Crazy Larry’s, Infernos or The Grand. It was more about the location then than about anything else. And that was just fine for me and my sex pest pals. Load up on Lager at The Ship And fill your boots with paralytic totty in the Clapham Grand. Wizard. HELLOOOOO DR GLITZ!

Number two was the mid noughties when we used to book the private room every year without fail for a big all day Christmas Lunch. This was when technically we were more mature. The Ship then was bog standard in terms of food- perfectly functional Christmas Dinner, loads of average wine and indifferent service. One year I wrapped up a raw chicken as a secret Santa present. It was funnier in theory than in execution. Another year my friend Nick met his now wife Tori by swimming across the floor of the bar and doing a Lion impression in her face. It was love at first sight. Those days were characterized by burning out by 8pm with tears, tantrums, puking and not having sex. Good times.

And NOW! It is the third coming of The Ship. I hadn’t been for a couple of years because my ex-girlfriend got custody by dint of living next door, but now I’m back and this time The Ship is becoming something of a phenomena. I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes because I don’t know the history or inner workings, but I suspect that Oisin Rogers, The Boss, has his sticky finger prints all over its current success. Quicker than most, they have realised the power of social media and particularly Twitter to push their product. And they do it superlatively- at once accessible, informative and professional but with an underlying sense of mischief. They have also realised the importance of the food blogging community and without patronising or sucking up have won almost unanimous favour. This is quite a trick to pull.

My birthday started with an exploratory tweet to @shipwandsworth with the date and the number of people. And then everything just happened- Emma, Oisin and Phil between them were proactive and patient, barely raising an eyebrow with menu requests and fluctuating numbers. The night itself was wonderful. I was hammered. I don’t remember anything after my main course so as usual this is a terrible restaurant review. BUT! The Foie Gras and pistachio terrine was exceptional- smooth foie, contrasting crusty pistachios and tart cherries with a perfectly toasted slice of brioche. Special. Other people raved about the scallops and rosti and my, they looked pearly from where I was slumped.

I had to order the calves liver (I can’t not order calves liver) and it was dense, pink, meaty and flavourful- with wonderful bubble and squeak and gravy. I think I had something with chocolate after that. But by this stage I was being passed shot after shot of tequila with Tabasco. I’m sure it was just swell. And BY THE WAY, £20 a head for three courses! For dinner! Best value in London, friends.

So there you have it, over a decade of being ‘Shipped’, and I love it now more than I ever did. Go there eaters and drinkers of London. I’ll be in the corner, rosy of nose and ruddy of cheek- possibly being held up by Oisin and Dave A and the rest of the merry gang.

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