Sailing to London at The Olde Ship

From my car, the restaurant seemed like nothing more than a cheesy imitation of the typical London bar, equipped with phone booths and British flags. But when I walked through the door painted like a Doctor Who police box, I was surprised to find myself in what felt like an authentic British pub. As you may recall, authenticity is something I look for in a restaurant.

The Olde Ship was dim and small, giving it a cozy, intimate feel. A waitress with a British accent escorted me to a tiny booth near the bar where, to my surprise, there were no televisions, and the source of entertainment was not sports but genuine conversation. Already, I loved this warm pub.

I made myself comfortable and ordered a cup of tea. It came in a small tin kettle like in the movies. Various maps and pages from old books, including what appeared to have been the journal of a ship captain, were pasted on the walls. Closing my eyes, I relaxed into the sounds of soft jazz music and blurred conversation.

Soon, my meal arrived—a piping-hot chicken pie. Each bite was a savory taste of heaven. The organic poultry in its blanket of delicate sauce and vegetables was cased inside fluffy pastry dough, providing an array of textures. The flavors melted into my mouth as if an English grandmother had just baked it on a winter evening. The British waitress came over and asked how I was enjoying my meal. My response was a thumbs-up accompanied by a happy little grin, my mouth still full when she asked. Everything was perfect, just as it had been during my dinner at the Bag O’ Nails pub during my spring break in England, and I was flooded with nostalgia and pleasure.

Located in Fullerton on North Harbor Boulevard, the pub is British-owned and serves only the most genuine British cuisine. The Olde Ship is as authentic as it gets, its decor evoking the feel of various pubs spread around London. Equipped with charming accents and beaming hospitality, the entire staff is from the United Kingdom. The quality of their service is noteworthy as well, with orders served in a timely matter and constant offers to bring more tea.

The food at the pub is spectacular. I have tasted three dishes so far: Drake’s chicken pie, Cutty Sark’s curry, and sticky toffee pudding. Each was great. Every item on the menu is named after a famous British historical figure or location. The variety of dishes at The Olde Ship appeals to any diner—they offer salads, burgers, seafood, and British pub classics like bangers and mash or fish and chips. For those who say British food is bland and burnt, they have obviously not tasted the savory meals at The Olde Ship.

Aside from the food, what truly brings out the pub’s charm is its ambiance. The music is soft and calming, and the lights are dim. The furniture is made of dark-colored wood, and what it lacks in space it makes up for in coziness. Unlike an American sports bar, this British pub does not have televisions. For entertainment, people talk and laugh with one another, and interact with the British bartenders. 

Unfortunately, this restaurant is on the pricier side, making it a better option for special occasions. Though the portions are large—and worth the money in my opinion—the average meal costs around $17 to $18. This might be a deterrent for college students, but if you can spare some cash and want to treat yourself once in a while, The Olde Ship is just the place to do so.

As a lover of British culture, I found going to The Olde Ship a wonderful experience; going to pubs was one of my favorite aspects of my trip to England. I did not think I would be able to find a similar experience in America, and I yearned for that British charm. So, I was elated to discover The Olde Ship. For people who love British comfort food and cozy conversation, this restaurant is perfect. Even though the prices are a bit high, the food, with its rich flavors, is worth the cost.

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