The new company going into the grand old colonial gal is called VK Brewing. Veteran owned.
Soooo…time will tell. I hope they honor the past of The Ship Inn. Of course I like others wonder what will happen with all of the memorabilia and historical bits?
Chef Robert Irvine tried to bring a horse to water but hey you can’t make him drink. I won’t miss the now former owner yelling at his employees on the dining room floor at the Ship Inn. Here’s hoping they keep him off of the dining room floor at Duling-Kurtz the other place he and his wife own.
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.
So can we all hope this means a beloved local landmark will be getting a second chance courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine? Can we breath a sigh of relief since we all saw that it was for sale? I remember when I saw the Keller Williams Commercial listing. I was sad. The Ship Inn long before I lived in Chester County was a familiar landmark when I was coming out here to see friends. Always a friendly looking and welcoming place on the outside…and inside.
So on April 20 they are welcoming diners for filming. We signed up. Do not know if they will pick us, but sure hope so. For me personally, it will be a signal of life returning to normal post COVID year from hell. And ironically, it was one of the last places we ate out at before COVID-19 hit.
Now a confession: I am one of the people who sent Restaurant Impossible an email about this restaurant. It was before COVID hit. I have no idea whose email got them to nibble, but I am sure I wasn’t the only one. I just always thought someone like Chef Robert Irvine would be good for them. I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have been there, I imagined how the place could look with freshening up and space reconfiguration. Especially with regard to the booths in the “grill room”. I just always found them uncomfortable. But I like the other tables and chairs, so I hope they keep them but maybe refresh the seat coverings.
The Ship Inn is an amazing historic resource along with being a lovely spot to eat. And the kitchen was never bad, but fresh eyes I am sure will help them too. So I am so hopeful that Restaurant Impossible is the shot in the arm that they need!
I signed up and will let you know if we are going! If chosen people have to get a COVID test before going. If fully vaccinated I am unsure how that works.
Sometimes even I take a shortcut- If I do not feel like rolling my own dough out, I purchase Marie Callender deep dish pie crusts. They are in the frozen section of your grocery store. I did that this time.
5 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries washed and drained
1 1/4 cups of Florida Crystals Demerara Sugar
6 tablespoons of flour
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
The zest of one medium-size lemon and the juice of half of that lemon
In a large mixing bowl mix all the filling ingredients listed above together. Fold gently and thoroughly you’re not mashing anything.
Set bowl to the side
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Florida Crystals Demerara Sugar
1 cup Quaker quick oats (plain not flavored)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter cut into little bitty squares
1 1/2 f teaspoons of cinnamon
1 scant teaspoon of cardamom
Use a pastry cutter or pair of forks to blend the topping ingredients together until soft crumbles form- Crumbles should be relatively uniform in size. Put the topping in the refrigerator for half an hour to 45 minutes.
Before you put the pie together, if you are using a fresh or frozen pie crust now is the time that you use a little softened butter In a light coat and spread gently on the bottom of the crust in the pan. It keeps the crust from getting soft. It is a tip I picked up from watching Chef Robert Irvine on TV- used to use the Martha Stewart egg white painted along the bottom of the crust, but I like this better.
Fold your berries into your deep dish pie crust and spread the crumble topping evenly on top – I tend to be slightly mounded in the middle of the pie crust. Do not overfill your pie crust or your oven will hate you later.
I make a light tinfoil piecrust covering edge for my pies before I put them in the oven, or you can use one of those pie baking rings .
Another tip: Because this is a fruit pie I generally cook it on a cookie sheet Or a shallow pan like a jellyroll pan in the oven- That way it saves on spills later
Bake the pie at 375° for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, depending on your oven.
Pie will smell delicious and you’ll see some of the blueberries bubbling through the crunchy topping when it is ready.
When the pie is finished put it on a baking rack to cool, which ideally should be at least four hours so the filling sets.
Pie is best served the day it is made I think, and should be served at room temperature. You can serve plain or with good vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
I will note that this organic Florida Crystals Demerarasugar is exceptionally good for baking fruit pies with – I tried it on a whim once because they said so on heir packaging, and guess what? They were right.
The final note is I have never written this pie recipe down before, so I hope the proportions are correct. To me baking fruit pies is like making homemade pasta – have done it for so long it is sort of instinctive – I grew up around people who cooked and baked – so from trial an error I just sort of learned if stuff felt right and so on.