The Ship Inn in Exton on Lancaster Avenue or Lincoln Highway is beloved to so many. Recently they got a television show makeover courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine and Restaurant Impossible.
I have to say well done! It’s wonderful!
Yes they are essentially getting a rave from me. I loved every minute! But I also have some other observations before I get to that.
The owner is working the floor. He is wound way too tight and he was is charge of the hostess desk when we got there…only we were marooned there for more than five minutes with no one greeting us. He also corrects his staff close to the point of berating them right there on the floor. He wasn’t yelling but the intent was obvious and it’s not something patrons wish to see. Hopefully he finds a competent front of house.
There is new life breathed into main room and the awful little booths are gone. Those booths were super uncomfortable and for a big room it was dark, it wasn’t airy.
Dark room no more. Clean and light and a design that so appeals to me because of the simplicity and execution of the design.
You are greeted crisp white walls with touches of maritime inspired brass rails, white bead board, and “sails” and a singular and fabulous ship cut out. It is this simple ship that is carried through on the tops of the menus and on the wait staff shirts.
At one end is the exposed stone wall with what looks like a semi-gloss clear seal. I love that look anyway and I think it looks fabulous.
The chairs are mid century inspired and SUPER comfortable with great back support while not looking clunky. The tables are very different but I think they will be a lot easier to maintain and they have a very clean look to them. Everything is very well spaced in the dining room it is not cramped.
They have some new cocktails. I chose the cranberry mimosa, which had just the right balance of everything. I enjoyed it. And I don’t drink very much so that’s saying something.
Ordering off the special prix fix menu is slightly rigid but I think post makeover they are getting their sea legs.
I ordered the surf and turf and wanted to substitute shrimp cocktail to start and waitress told me it was too expensive to do that. However I never said I would NOT pay for the up charge substitute, I would expect it. So I ordered shrimp cocktail separately and split it with my family. I love a good shrimp cocktail and it didn’t disappoint. And the cocktail sauce itself was fresh and had just the right bite.
With my entrée, I had the beet salad. Great vinaigrette, lovely greens, and I love beets anyway. The beets were chopped and I would’ve preferred a very thin slice to a little square, but that’s not really a criticism that’s just a personal preference on my part because I love beets. And they were red and yellow beets which are so pretty on a plate.
One thing I found surprising about the show makeover was the ladies room. The ladies room was surprisingly not refreshed. I think it would lend to the cohesiveness of the room makeover. It’s not that the ladies room is bad because it never has been, but I would suggest for the future that they take the design of the redone room and translate it simply into the ladies room. White bead board and white paint with a couple brass accents in that ladies room will really make a difference.
Now let’s talk about the lighting fixtures in the makeover room. Totally TERRIFIC lighting fixtures!! So many places fall short when it comes to lighting fixtures and the lighting fixtures are clean with a classic design that works so well with the room. And the lighting fixtures make you feel like you are on an old-fashioned teak yacht don’t know how else to explain it and I know that might sound weird but they’re great fixtures. The devil is in the details and they are spot on.
All of our main courses were amazing. We had crabcakes, Dan Dan noodles, surf and turf, and the ribeye. Compliments to the chef and our waitress for getting the meat temperature literally perfect.
We had various things for dessert. I had the sticky toffee pudding which I couldn’t finish, so half of it is in my refrigerator. But it was amazing. And sticky toffee pudding as one of those things that if it’s done right it’s just the best.
I went out of my way to take photos when people really weren’t around because I wanted you to see the room versus the people. They had a good crowd inside and out.
The wait staff as always is really nice, and I loved our waitress. She is one of those waitresses that is just perfect giving you the right amount of attention and not being intrusive or overly solicitous. And she’s genuinely nice. And that’s the thing— I always found the wait staff there pleasant and you can’t say that about a lot of places. The staff all seem to be working really well together and things were well-timed coming out of the kitchen and in the beginning our drinks were gotten to us quickly and our water, etc.
It was a fabulous experience as a guest, and we weren’t left hanging —- I don’t know how else to describe it. But you know what I mean sometimes when you go into a restaurant, and you feel like you are almost abandoned. Not tonight at The Ship Inn. They went out of their way to make guests feel special and I appreciate that.
I am so happy to see the new life in the old girl known as The Ship Inn and I wish them continued success from the bottom of my heart and I can’t wait to go back!
Make a reservation and check it out! Thanks for stopping by!
A postscript: The Ship Inn is only open for lunch Friday and Saturday which I do find inconvenient.