The Ship Inn has been an iconic pub in Scotland for decades but we can now officially call it The AA Pub of The Year 2016. Owners Graham and Rachel Bucknall have certainly earned this incredible accolade, presented to them in September, as since they took over the pub in late 2014, it has undergone a complete renovation transforming it from a very traditional and quite dark pub into a bright and characterful bar area with lovely dining rooms both upstairs and down complete with views of the spectacular beach.
The fresh and modernised décor is sympathetic to it’s Scottish heritage yet immense thought has been put in to the finishing touches as quirky pieces can be found throughout the building from the marvellous rope lighting over the bar to the quirky downstairs gents toilets which apparently are not to be missed.
On a cold and blustery day, gazing out from an upstairs dining table to the weather-filled horizon is made even more magical by the presence of a cosy wood burner at one end of the room and the welcome from the staff is just as warm.
Choosing from the local produce-heavy menu is not easy. I opted for the twice baked Isle of Mull Cheddar soufflé which was a cheesy triumph – crunchy on the top and smooth in the middle.
The combination of accompanying poached pear, walnuts, honey crème fraîche and watercress completed a deliciously light starter. Mr Kerry chose the lamb shank pie which sadly didn’t work. The first attempt was cold in the middle and the second was very dry and claggy. The concept on paper was great but we just put this one down to experience.
To follow, I chose the locally caught and pan-fried mackerel and I was presented with a dish I haven’t enjoyed as much in a long, long time. The mackerel fillets were fat and cooked to perfection – the skin was wonderfully crispy and the flesh buttery and melt in the mouth.
The fish’s main companion was a warm crushed potato salad which was also rich but spiked with herbs, spring onions and capers which created a sublime balance. The finishing touch was the crispy leeks on top which surprisingly, still contained a lot of flavour. I was a happy, happy lady.
Our other main course was the linguine with hand picked crab which was also a real hit. Each strand of pasta was coated with flavour; the fresh crab flakes were generous and not overpowered by the chilli, garlic and shallots. We finished by sharing the steamed Golden Syrup pudding with marmalade ice cream as frankly I just couldn’t say no to it.
It was everything I had hoped it would be – sticky and warm and served not only with the bittersweet ice cream but with a thin home made vanilla custard. Yum.
I enjoyed everything about our time at The Ship Inn – the art for sale on the walls, the attentive and professional service that managed to make us feel like returning old friends, the standard offer of complimentary still or sparkling water which in my opinion is a true show of class by the proprietors and of course the unbeatable location.
I am really looking forward to returning to sample the other delights on the menu and would be happy to do so either with the giggly girls, my family or just with a book by myself contemplating the scenery.
Price: Starters: £3.95 – £8.95; mains: £10.50 – £25.50; desserts: £5.50 – £7.95
Info: The Ship Inn
Address: The Toft, Elie, Fife, KY9 1DT
Tel: 01333 330 246