On one of our recent jaunts away, you may recall I said I was going to tell you about our night at The Ship Inn in Rye. We’d tootled down to East Sussex to visit The Gallivant in Camber – you’ve already heard all about that, but had decided to eek out some more time by the seaside by booking in for a night at The Ship in nearby Rye.
Home to its own ‘scallop week’, Rye sounded like our kind of place, as did The Ship. Tucked right in the heart of the medieval town, it not only does food as well as drink but welcomes dogs too. Rye itself is lovely – cobbled streets, little lanes, and plenty of independent shops, cafes and pubs.
The Ship itself is a gorgeous building, geared well to both summer and winter I’d imagine, with a log fire inside in one part and seating outside where I can imagine supping on a cider in the sunshine in summer.
We’d actually had a sneak preview before we arrived to check in, walking into Rye on a ramble from The Gallivant and deciding to call in for lunch. It was fairly busy – usually a good sign, especially in a place where there are plenty of eateries and watering holes on offer.
On our recce, we’d tried out the food at lunchtime – homemade minestrone soup for me and The Ship’s twist on moules mariniere for him. Both exactly what we needed – robust, hearty and tasty after a nice long walk. Mr M won, I think, with his fat, fresh mussels and a bacon-laced sauce that you definitely needed a spoon to finish off.
Of course, having felt virtuous enough to have chosen a soup packed with vegetables, I decided I had definitely wanted – no, needed – a sweet, so was pointed in the direction of the chocolate mousse with salted caramel. Wow! I’m fairly sure I haven’t eaten anything quite that sweet before in my life.
Despite its casual presentation (which I quite liked actually – it was in keeping with the laid-back feeling of everything at The Ship) the mousse itself was light in texture, and not really bitter at all. That, combined with the sugar-heavy salted caramel, made for a crazy sweet dish that made you giggle through each mouthful and almost made your teeth ache just eating it.
I think I had just about come down from the mother of all sugar highs by the time we returned the following day to check in to our dog-friendly room. Being an old building, all the rooms are up above the pub. The Ship has done a great job of providing an in-depth description of each room so you can make your choice based on how big it is (some are smaller than others) and how noisy it might be.
If you want to take your dog, it’s £10 extra to account for laundry and cleaning costs etc, which I think is pretty fair. We had gone for a slightly larger room that was hopefully due to be less noisy and were delighted when we peeped round the doorway.
If you want chic luxury, this might not be the place for you, but if you want somewhere with charm and character – a home from home where you can kick back and relax, then you’ve come to the right place. It may not be high end, but all the little details are there, from the welcome note and sticks of rock, to the tray of tea and coffee making facilities, the rubber duck perched on the bath and decor that has clearly had a lot of love put into it.
I’ve seen a few reviews mentioning the noise, but I have to say that bar a few doors opening and closing as people went to bed and got up, all three of us had a fab nights sleep.
Of course, before bed we took a trip downstairs to try out the evening food on offer. The same room where I’d enjoyed an afternoon coffee and chocolate mousse the previous day had gone from an empty secluded corner to just one of the many areas packed with diners, but if you’re staying at The Ship you get dibs on reserving tables so we tucked ourselves into a corner to tuck into some food while Brandy munched on a bone.
Mr M started with a scotch duck egg while I had half a pint of smoked prawns. As you can see, his scotch egg was beautifully runny, while the meat (though he would have liked it to be a bit thicker) was well seasoned and flavoured.
For main course, Mr M had the steak. Of course! A great piece of meat apparently, and cooked just how he liked it. Yeah, so there were no airs and graces – just a good old steak with mushroom and tomato garnish, garlic butter, and crispy skin-on fries, but when the meat is good and cooked right, do you really need more?
I had gone for one of the specials which, being the idiot I am, I had forgotten to write down in detail. Basically, pigs cheeks with a generous dollop of mash and greens and a great sauce. No delicate presentation or experimental flavour combinations, but what many people would describe with that hackneyed phrase of ‘good, honest food’ that is just right to round off a chilly day of wandering round outside.
After dinner we enjoyed an evening on the sofas in another part of the bar, chatting away to fellow weekend breakers, sipping on cocktails from the fairly large menu while Brandy snoozed the night away.
After a good old sleep, we prepared for the journey home with a breakfast treat. Now, despite a lovely stay at The Ship, this is the one sticking point for me. You see, I’m a big reader of menus before we go anywhere, and I had spotted that on The Ship’s ‘typical breakfast menu’ on their website, they offered Omelette Arnold Bennett.
If you haven’t heard of this, it’s an amazingly indulgent dish that was created by the chef at The Savoy for the novelist of the same name and is a gooey mix of smoked haddock, eggs, hollandaise and cheese. You don’t see it many places, and I’ve still never had it, so this was going to be one of the highlights of the trip.
Imagine my disappointment to pick up a breakfast menu achingly devoid of any such delight. A brief questioning of the lovely lady serving us and it turns out they don’t do Omelette Arnold Bennett. In fact, apparently they never have. Now, I know that ‘sample’ menus should be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt, but putting something so unusual on a menu without ever serving it is a tiny bit unfair to people like me who can spend days getting excited about a particular dish. I’ve checked back, and it’s still there on the website, but don’t be fooled.
So instead, I had little choice but to opt for a far more common option of smoked salmon and scrambled egg, while Mr M had the obligatory fry-up. They were fine, but didn’t quite eliminate the bitter taste in my mouth of having been deprived of my breakfast treat.
Let’s not let one little breakfast menu slip deter us though. The food was good overall, but it was the ambience that made The Ship. Our evening there was relaxed and fun, its location is fabulous and the room was packed with character and charm. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Rye, then I’d definitely recommend. Just don’t expect an Omelette Arnold Bennett.
We paid in full for our night at The Ship. They didn’t know I was a blogger.
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