The Ship in Wandsworth is the best pub in London. I don't mean just that it's my favourite, or that you are guaranteed the best time, that it has the best atmosphere, the happiest customers, the best food or drink. I just mean that, objectively, literally, absolutely, it is the best pub in London. You could argue that other pubs are better, but you'd be wrong. It's that simple.
Alright, so perhaps I could be biased. I have known the guys at the Ship for almost as long as I've had the blog; my connection with that building goes way beyond critical detachment and is the only reason I have never felt able to give them the glowing write-up here that they most definitely deserve. I realise that as "press" (sort of) it's in their professional interests to be nice to me, but I have never known a bunch of people so enthusiastic, so genuine and so very successful at enabling other people to have a good time. This is not just the reason people from all over London travel to what is by anyone's standards a rather unusual location, squeezed in-between a drive-thru McDonalds, a cement works and a bleak modern housing development, but also why they come in their absolute hordes. For certain days last summer, to curious bus passengers travelling over nearby Wandsworth Bridge, the scene must have resembled some kind of booze-soaked refugee camp. I guarantee though, that every single person there that day, whether they'd managed to find somewhere to sit or were stood half a mile up Jews Road nursing a Pimms in a plastic cup and musing on the long journey back to the front of the bar, were enjoying themselves. It's just impossible not to, in that place.
But now that I've written my love letter to the Ship, I need to talk about Scotch Eggs. It is a direct result of the Ship management's tireless enthusiasm for everyone and everything that, following a bit of backwards and forwards on Twitter between fellow enthusiasts, they generously offered up their venue as a location for something called the Scotch Egg Challenge. You can read the full breakdown of dates, timings, rules and regulations on the Ship's own blog here, as well as the impressively long and incredibly exciting list of competitors, and I am absolutely chuffed myself to have been also been invited as one of the judging panel. Rest assured I will starve myself beforehand, abandon all previous loyalties as best I can, and remain resolutely impartial even when judging the Harwood Arms' Venison Scotch Egg against the Ship's own monumental Major Scotch Egg. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.
To any restaurants or pubs that think their own version will stand up to such extraordinary competition, you have until Thursday 4th August to make yourself known to the Ship. I am told that the eggs must be served just as they are, as bought, in the competitor's own restaurant, so that means if you ordinarily make them the night before and sell them cold on the bar during the day, that's exactly how they will be judged on the 4th - a very sensible rule. And to any Scotch Egg lovers interested in discovering which example is definitively the best in the capital, come along to the day itself on Tuesday 9th August from 7:30pm - there are no tickets, no personal invite, all are welcome and an absolutely fantastic time is guaranteed. As I've said before, at the Ship it's just impossible to have it any other way.
The Scotch Egg Challenge, hosted by the Ship Wandsworth
All other details here.
Photos, from the top:
The Ship from The Guest Ale blog
The Harwood Arms Venison Scotch Egg by Hollow Legs
The Ship, Wandsworth Major Scotch Egg by David J Constable
The Bull & Last Scotch Egg by Dos Hermanos
EDIT: Well, it's been a funny old few days in London, and as you will probably have heard by now, the Scotch Egg Challenge was sadly (though quite rightly) postponed. But fear not! We have a new date for the event - the 20th September - and it promises to be even bigger and better, with more time for even more exciting new entries.
Come one, come all, and come hungry. I'll see you there.