Thank crikey the walls of the Ship and Shovell are adorned with pictures of ships and not shovells. If they were it would make for one pretty drab boozer.
First-time visitors to this pub could be forgiven for thinking they had double vision because there appears to be two pubs by the same name facing each other.
As Harry Hill would say: ‘What are the chances of that, aye?’
Any rate, whichever side you choose to go in, you won’t be disappointed by the homely feel to the place.
I arrived in the main bar early one Friday evening to find it filling up with a mixed bag of commuters, tourists and even some Londoners. Yes, Londoners in a London pub, amazing. I thought that was a thing of the past.
It was quite heartening to find cockney geezers in Lonsdale T-shirts swilling lager next to chaps from the shires in three-piece suits supping ale. There really is hope for peace in this world.
Despite its central London location – it’s close to Charing Cross and Embankment stations – the Ship and Shovell certainly has a quaint old charm about it with it’s vibrant red-painted exterior, hanging baskets and old street lamps.
It’s interior is welcoming too. The dark wooden panels, red patterned carpet and sparkling mirrors create a nice environment in which to enjoy one too many beers with the boys.
Across the passage, the smaller bar has a character all its own and includes a couple of booths where you can sit with pals and put the world to rights.
Rather more interestingly, it has an area called The Snug which consists of a table and two chairs at the top of a small staircase. It provides the ideal place for two lovers to gaze into each others’ eyes and have a blazing row in private – a point well worth remembering the next time you and the missus have one of those make-or-break chats.
The music, which was played at a sensible level allowing conversation to flow, included Renée and Renato’s classic track Save Your Love, a song which is sure to push any relationship to breaking point.
This side of the pub has a lovely dark red painted ceiling, a well worn wooden floor and a suitably small bar of it’s own, which on my visit was manned by a solitary member of staff. Two lagered-up lads from Down Under took advantage of the situation and tried to get to the barmaid’s down under by asking her all sorts of interesting questions about beers.
Those sly old dogs.
I’d heard enough of that old nonsense, so I scuttled off upstairs to cast my eye over an area of the boozer called The Crow’s Nest. I didn’t stay for long, but there’s a bit more seating in this part of the pub which is worth considering should you feel, like me, the need to have a break from the spiel spouted by a couple of love-struck larrikins.
And so, on to the beers. The boozer is owned by Dorset-based Hall and Woodhouse, so the choice was good – Badger, Tanglefoot and the cheekily named Firkin Fox were all on draught.
I opted for a pint of the latter, which cost £3.10, and being Badger Brewery’s seasonal offering for summer, it went down rather well. It’s a nice and crisp thirst-quenching ale.
However, I was more concerned with the firkin fly which wouldn’t leave me alone while I was trying to enjoy a special moment with my beer…
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: THE SHIP AND SHOVELL, 1-3 Craven Passage, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 5PH www.shipandshovell.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: *** Lively on Thursday and Friday evenings with tourists and post-work punters.
DECOR: **** Very tasteful. It’s got a traditional feel to it with lovely dark wood, red paint and those sparkling mirrors. It’s certainly a well maintained boozer.
SERVICE: **** There were lots of staff members on duty and the ones I spoke to seemed very friendly. I think those Aussie lads would agree.
PRICE: *** £3.10 for a pint of Badger is pretty good. Firkin Fox was £3.40, which is not so good.
SELECTION: *** Three decent ales on offer when I popped in. Badger, Firkin Fox and Tanglefoot. I think I worked my way through the lot, maybe twice over, though I can’t quite remember. Must have been a good night.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS? The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross has an area set aside for parties, meetings and celebrations.