Restaurant review, The Ship at Dunwich: “Service let this place down on the day”
PUBLISHED: 16:25 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 20 October 2017
Our reviewer found the food mostly good, but the service cold at this popular coastal pub.
Blimey! I’m really not kidding when I say we could easily have caught our own dinner on the way to The Ship.
The long, narrow road leading away from the A12 was teeming with pheasants and partridge, to the point where we were literally playing ‘chicken’ the whole journey. There was no doubting we’re in game season, that’s for sure.
We’d called ahead to see if a table was free for a very late lunch, early dinner. This place serves food until about 9ish on a Sunday, which is very handy indeed.
We jumped straight into main courses. I was hoping for a nice bit of Blythburgh pork but they’d sold out, so plumped for the other roast – rump of Bramfield beef. Provenance was clear and proud on this menu. It sounded amazing, with so many different types of veg and trimmings. I waited, with baited breath, knife and fork in hands, ready to attack the plate.
What I was served was so almost nearly great, but not quite there. Rump of beef is very unforgiving. You have to cut it ‘just so’ to ensure the grain runs the right way. And it has to be pink. Mine was a fair old chunk (great value) but it was ever so chewy as it was overcooked (or should I say well-cooked). A shame as this was high quality meat with excellent flavour. I could barely cut/chew it and my son, who had the same dish, couldn’t get through it either. Perhaps we came in at the wrong time?
The trimmings (apart from a creamy yet very underseasoned gratin of leeks) were really good. Crisp potatoes, tender parsnips, sweet braised cabbage, a puffy Yorkshire, carrot mash, and seasonal veg cooked al dente. Lovely. With a dash of salt and pepper in that gratin, and more tender beef, I would have stuck this up there in the roast hall of fame.
Also tried was fish and chips. Crispy, proper chips, savoury ungreasy batter. And a hunking great burger which, although cooked-through, was properly juicy and a real mouthful, topped with delicious smoked cheese. That got a big thumbs up and was so gigantic my hubby could barely eat his chips.
The slight disappointment over my main course was alleviated by a big fat wedge of Colin’s sticky toffee pudding. My God it was good. Squidgy but not too dense. Packed with intense butterscotch dark sugar notes. And the cherry on the cake was that crunchy surface of the pud, which gave it that little something extra.
A brownie tried was not really a brownie (it didn’t have the right texture) but a chocolate cake, served with honeycomb ice cream. It wasn’t chocolatey enough and was actually a bit salty/fizzy like it had too much raising agent in it.
There’s an ace selection of beers at the bar and Cliff Quay Brewery’s Three Sheets to the Wind slipped down quite nicely thankyou. Refreshing, malty and with a dab of citrus. Very nice.
This is where I feel the pub was let down. Service was indifferent and a little curt and rude, which surprised me, as the man I’d spoken to on the phone was so upbeat.
On arrival we asked a waitress where we should sit and she simply told us to go to the bar where, after queuing for a good 10 to 15 minutes, I found out it was a free-for-all on tables. I’d basically been queuing for a menu. Could the server not have given me one?
Cutlery was dumped on the end of our table without so much as a hello. Same with the main courses. And there was no courtesy check, so we actively had to go looking for a member of staff to see if the beef could be replaced. Our puddings were served by a nice friendly gent, but the rest of the service left us feeling cold and actually marred our meal. We definitely didn’t feel very welcome.
The pub has no airs and graces and is all scrubbed pine and country furnishings with the odd nod to the sea. It was very busy with drinkers when we visited which gave the place a good buzzy feel that defied its remote location.
A big selling point for this pub. Minsmere is just over the way, and the beach is five minutes’ walk. It’s simply a stunning setting for a bite to eat followed by a gentle wander to walk it off.
It was about £63 for two adults and two childrens’ main courses, two soft drinks, a beer and two puds. The roasts, for the amount on the plate, represented good value at under £14 but just needed a little more attention to detail.
A bit tricky as most of it’s on road. There’s a free car park (donations welcome) by the beach.
It has got to be the sticky toffee pud. What a winner!
I know lots of people really rate this pub and I can see why. It’s an appealing setting and for the most part the food was good. They haven’t gone all gastro pub and cheffy, there’s seasonality, and the kitchen makes good use of ingredients on its doorstep. I can forgive the chewy beef (I’m sure from talking to other people this was a one-off) but the service has left a bad taste in my mouth. It will be interesting to go back another time to see if we’d gone on an off-day.