Anna Turns gets a taste of Dartmoor and a double-yolker surprise at this friendly Ugborough restaurant
With a seasonal menu, plus a specials board crammed with daily seafood specials fresh from Plymouth fish market, there’s always plenty of choice at The Ship Inn. The simple, smart decor and friendly atmosphere feels suited to get-togethers with family or friends, as well as more casual business lunches, and it’s a great choice for parties.
Plymouth-born Head Chef Mark Fice worked in London honing his trade before returning to his home county, first working at the Barbican Kitchen in Plymouth, then moving to The Ship Inn three years ago. When he was promoted to Head Chef 18 months ago, he seized the opportunity to make big changes to some of the suppliers and created seasonal menus, giving dishes more of a contemporary twist.
Mark’s food isn’t unnecessarily extravagant – nothing is wasted. With a dish like my husband’s starter of Cornish crab (a striking tower of white crab meat topped with green avocado mayo), the leftover brown crab meat is incorporated into freshly baked bread, and the crab shells are then used to make bouillabaisse. I chose the Cornish brie with candied walnuts and pickled pear salad, served on slate. Rolled in tiny walnut pieces, the two mini logs of brie were delicately flavoured and complemented by the texture of whole caramelised walnuts and sweet pear.
To follow, I couldn’t resist the haunch of venison, served with butternut squash, sprouting cabbage, pressed potato and blackberry sauce. The venison, farmed locally in Cornwood on the edge of Dartmoor, was pink and succulent, and the sweet blackberries (freshly picked from an Ugborough hedgerow!) were the perfect garnish. My husband ate the pork Wellington served with rich buttery mash and thyme jus. The generous portion of golden pastry surrounding the perfectly cooked pork was accompanied by light fresh green veg.
Mark’s creativity and sense of humour is certainly expressed through the food he creates and everything we ate was artistically presented. When we spotted someone on the next table eating what looked like boiled eggs for dessert, I felt it was my duty to try The Ship Inn speciality. Eggs and soldiers arrived, enough to fool any diner and bring a smile to their face! Real egg shells were filled with vanilla bean brûlée and topped with a ‘yolk’ of mango coulis, accompanied by caramelised shortbread soldiers for dipping. Meanwhile, my husband indulged in pavlova with light Chantilly cream and strawberries.
Next year is The Ship Inn’s 30th anniversary and Mark has promised more quirky dishes on offer. Winter specials include more game such as partridge and pheasant, and oxtail soup served with suet pudding.
Published 8 October 2014
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