Saturday, 25 July 2009
Seaside Eating in Sussex Coast: The Ship Inn and crab and lobster
A couple of weeks ago Kelsie and I decided we needed a quick escape out of London for some free radical eliminating sea air, and of course some good fresh seafood. We don't really know much about the coast of England so randomly picked Selsey as our destination this time.
We had three memorable meals in the area. The first, at the Rushmere, was a total disaster and almost made us turn around and head home. Rubbery, tasteless fish that had all signs of being zapped in a microwave was served with uncooked, unseasoned vegetable garnish. It really was pretty awful.
The second was in nearby Itchenor at a place called the Ship Inn. The previous night's disaster meal was redeemed by a fabulous lunch here. When we walked in we knew right away this was going to be a good meal. There were local ales on tap and the specials board had an interesting selection. We asked our server about the availability of lobster and funnily enough she said the best lobster she had was in Cape Cod. We had a bit of reminisce with her about our fave lobster places on the cape and about how we miss lobster rolls, and she explained that it was hit or miss with lobster down on the Sussex Coast and on that particular day there wasn't any available. Kelsie had a smoked haddock fishcake that was definitely more haddock than potato (we like!) served with a kind of Caesar salad with all the right ingredients down to marinated anchovies. I had one of the specials, grilled sardines on toast with a warm tomato chutney. It was perfectly executed and tasted really fresh. We decided to share the dressed Selsey crab which was all that you could ask for -- incredibly fresh crab, lightly seasoned, served with a salad of mixed greens.
Sufficiently stuffed we headed back to Selsey. Later that evening we had our third memorable meal of the trip at crab and lobster in nearby Sidlesham. It was a good thing we stopped to book our table as the only times left were 6pm and 9:45 pm. We opted for the earlier time. crab & lobster oozes comfort and elegance. The wait staff were extremely professional and friendly.
Kelsie ordered seared scallops with beetroot as a starter and i had a salmon crab parcel on pickled cucumber slices. The pickled cucmbers were a great textural and tangy complement to the rich creamy parcel of smoked salmon wrapped around dressed crab. Our mains were just as interesting. Kelsie ordered a crab risotto which was garnished with a cheddar crisp. Unfortunately the crisp tasted mostly of burnt cheese and was just too bitter to enjoy. I had a delightful fish stew with mullet, hake, and clams, accompanied with a vibrant spicy rouille. I slurped my way to heaven with that stew and vowed to make it one of these weekends. Dessert was a bit disappointing. We had a rhubarb tart. The pastry was a bit too thick and hard, and the rhubarb was a little tough. Otherwise no complaints. I could see us coming back and perhaps staying in one of their guest rooms or even their newly available self catering crab cottage.