We kicked off with a little amuse of foie, rolled in some sort of crushed nut. It was velvet-smooth, and the little disc of apple was intensely flavoured and tooth-sticking.
My starter of smoked duck breast, tempura of confit thigh (hiding behind that massive beetroot triangle), spiced aubergine caviar and cherry jelly was visually stunning. The beetroot crisp was cut into a fearsome shard and the tempura duck leg was beautifully battered and grease-free. Aubergine caviar looked innocent enough but it packed a pleasant punch that I wasn't expecting. However, I thought the cherry jelly to be superfluous, perhaps an element too far as it didn't add much to the dish.
All this, however, was blown straight out of the water by a companion's artichoke ravioli; silky al dente pasta, adorned with seared scallops in a mussel broth, we all looked upon his plate enviously. He was forced to share it with us.
The 'surf and turf' consisted of braised pigs cheek and tiger prawns accompanied by carrot and ginger puree. While the puree was a mere colour splash, the pigs cheek was fork-tender and interspersed with wibbly swathes of fat. Pork and shellfish is a classic combination, one that worked well here with the big juicy prawns. When I came towards the end of my dish though, the pigs cheek has a slightly unpleasant granular texture beneath it - a bit like haggis, and almost too intensely porky - and it was pushed aside. A slight blip on an otherwise delicious main.
Sides of fries were well fried and wedges were declared by the table to be excellent. We also tried a dish from their barbeque menu, pork ribs in a coca cola sauce. These fell apart to hungry hands and were stickily good. I'm going for them next time.
Too stuffed to contemplate dessert for there was much moreish, home-made focaccia, we headed out to the sun-speckled garden for a few more glasses of wine with our excellent host, manager Oisin. Before really realising, we'd spent a good four hours there and had vowed to come back in summer months. You'll find us there propping up the bar, smelling faintly of smoky meat, more likely than not faces smeared with a little barbeque sauce.
41 Jew's Row,
Tel: 020 8870 9667
We dined as guests of The Ship.