I’ve spoken about The Ship before in this column, it’s like the Earl Spencer a local legend, but even more so. The Ship is a pub whose fame has spread far and wide, a pub that is a draw in itself. One that on bank holidays will have people travelling from the furthest outer suburb to attempt to squeeze themselves into the bar or the garden.
Is any pub worth the lengths that people will go to so that they can come to The Ship, more so is The Ship itself? To this question I’d have to give a qualified yes as an answer.
Why only a qualified yes I hear you ask. Well let’s see. Yes The Ship is a riverside pub, so that’s of course a massive tick, but it sits next to the river between a concrete depot and a municipal dump, whilst overlooking a retail park. This is perhaps not the most picturesque location.
The pub itself is pretty big with two interior bars, a more raffish public bar and a smarter saloon as well as an outside serving area for better weather. It also houses a large inside restaurant and exterior burger grill, making the whole area feel a bit like an oversized drinkingplex.
As I’ve related elsewhere, my other big problem with The Ship has been feeling out of place. Yes unfortunately going there these days tends to make me feel old. I’ve been visiting the place for so long I’m now a decade and a bit older than the people who seem to be going there now. It was with a bit of reluctance then that I agreed to the Ultimate Rugby Fan’s (URF) idea of going down one Wednesday for the quiz.
A couple of years ago I unwisely agreed to participate in an industry quiz night, this was after boasting about my quizzing prowess. Yes generally I manage (with my team) for a place in the upper quartile of the scoring, this is partly due to the amount of useless information stuffed in my head. It’s also down to the fact that I’ve now been to so many quizzes, that you get an idea of how they work, what sort of questions will be asked, how many anagrams you’ll have to decode and so on.
I’ll never forget how quickly my confidence faded that night. Question after question on reality
TV stars I’d never clapped eyes on, bands I’d never heard of and trendy films I’d never seen.
The early smile on my face vanished faster than an ice lolly in hell, to be replaced by a rictus
grin of the hopeless out of their depth. I was convinced that any quiz held at The Ship would be equally baffling.
We arrived at about 7 in plenty of time for the 8 pm start. The first shock was how many other teams had booked tables as this is a fairly recently relaunched initiative. The second was that once we’d actually got a table for two, which I think was the last available, the quiz master was standing behind us going through the questions. That wasn’t the shocking bit obviously, more that he seemed more like one of my contemporaries than the usual demographic propping up the bar.
Having an hour before the quiz started, we decided to invest the time wisely in testing the food. The bar in The Ship offers a cut down menu of on this occasion 3 main courses from the restaurant and a selection of burgers from the grill. The mains vary in price from about £11-£14, and included cottage pie (the choice of the URF,) fish and chips (well I had to of course,) & lastly a vegetarian option (….tumbleweed from us….)
I had actually dined fairly recently in the restaurant with the Delightful Dining Companion (DDC,) and had been impressed, well perhaps more than impressed. The fact that the burgers were at about £15 more expensive than the restaurant main courses made this a bit of a no brainer for me to swerve the options served in a bun and go for the aforementioned fish and chips.
The food arrived after about quarter of an hour, with my fish piping hot and obviously cooked to order. The cod was coated in a good thick beer batter, this very different from how the light crispy batter used at Brady’s next door, but just as good in my opinion. The chips however I have to say I didn’t think were quite the equal of the next door neighbour’s, but it has to be pointed out that the URF felt they were better. She does live every Sunday in The Ship so might be slightly biased. I would say at £13 odd as opposed to about £11 in Brady’s it was slightly more expensive to have a similar quality dish.
The URF’s cottage pie she stated was the best she’d ever had. I tasted it, and it was pretty bloody good I have to say. Crispy then crumbly potato on top, a delicious beef almost mince stew like filling, with plenty of healthy veg pushing you towards your 5 a day. I was impressed, it was simple food done well. If you compare these with what we had the previous week at the Wandle the difference in quality was obvious. For approximately £2 more per dish we had food from a different league.
Well enough of the food, what of the quiz? Like the Wandle this is a quiz run by the individual quiz master and not by one of the increasingly ubiquitous pub quiz companies. This means that each answer will have been individually researched by the quiz master, in this case James.
James’s quiz has two different picture rounds, firstly some dingbats that you can work on prior to the quiz proper starting and then a celebrity picture round dished out at a half time. There are 6 further question rounds, with each team able to play a joker on the round that they think they have the best chance on (you have to play before the questions are asked obviously.) Playing your joker doubles the amount of points awarded on that round.
Well we had two strokes of good fortune. Firstly we played out joker on the travel round, and managed to get full marks. I hate to say this without feeling smug (and I do feel a bit smug here,) but there was only one question where it was a semi guess. Secondly, exceptional luck in the celebrity picture round. Usually I could be relied upon not to recognize even those sitting next to me if their ugly phizog was transposed to the paper in front of me. Here again we managed to get full marks, though to my undying shame I managed to mistake Margaret Thatcher for HM the Queen Mother, whoops. I did manage however to successfully identify Isla Fisher, which was good since I’ve had a massive soft spot for her since she appeared in the Scooby Doo movie all those years back.
James managed to get through all 60 spoken questions and the two picture rounds in just over 2 hours including a break. This included a wine tasting question with genuine wine in the food and drink round (we were right in that it was from the new world and only tripped up on exact country and grape variety.)
There are nearly as many prizes as teams which is a good way of getting buy in. Also despite the fact that the quiz has only just been relaunched it seems to be generating quite a bit of interest.
So my verdict, good quiz, good food. If you like pub quizzes and live close by this is one definitely worth checking out. Word of caution, it is getting more popular so don’t take a chance like we did, book in advance.
Right so that’s it for this column, one thing is that we’d love to hear from you here at NappyValley.net if you have a pub quiz you’d like to nominate for testing please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
41 Jews Row
London SW18 1TB
Quiz night’s Wednesday from 8 pm.