If you live south of the river, you might know The Ship Wandsworth as a South-West London drinking institution, boasting a riverside terrace that can regularly be found overflowing with happy locals throughout the summer months.
However, what you might not know is that there’s also a pretty serious restaurant operating from inside this spacious old boozer, serving up food vastly superior to your typical pub grub.
Away from the alfresco revelry is a sprawling but warm dining room, where diners can enjoy the convivial atmosphere of a buzzing local pub while sampling Head Chef Shaun Harrington’s array of fine modern-British cuisine.
We were treated to a pleasingly summery dish of seared scallops, oyster and samphire risotto from the appealing selection of starters, as well as a more robust dish of braised pigs cheeks from the daily specials board.
The scallops were beautifully cooked, with the risotto elevated by a distinct but not overpowering hit of oyster. Pigs cheeks, meanwhile, were outstanding, beautifully tender and swimming in a rich, deep gravy.
A main of seared duck breast, wilted bok choy and blood orange jus was let down slightly by a dollop of spring onion mashed potato, livid green in appearance and disappointingly over-salted.
However, our monkfish cheek wrapped in Parma ham and served with red pepper rouille, braised puy lentils, anchovies and roasted tomatoes was a revelation, an explosion of sunny, tangy flavours revolving around an impeccably cooked piece of fish.
We finished off with a dense treacle tart that might have been a bridge too far after the preceding two courses – a neighbouring table’s banoffee cheesecake looked a lighter alternative. One to remember for next time.
The Ship Wandsworth also offers a more traditional bar menu, serving up the usual array of burgers, sausages and other pub classics, while an outdoor barbecue operates throughout the summer.
If you’ve got time to linger over dinner, however, the main dining room is well worth investigating. Provided you can tear yourself away from the terrace, that is…