From my car, the restaurant seemed nothing more than a cheesy imitation of the typical London pub, equipped with stereotypical phone boxes and British flags. But when I walked through the door, which was painted like a “Doctor Who” police box, I was enveloped by an authenticity that mirrored that of pubs back in Great Britain.
The Olde Ship was dim and small, giving it a cozy feel. A waiter 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 began to develop an instant love for this warm pub.
I made myself comfortable and ordered a cup of tea. It came in a small tin kettle, like in the movies. Looking like they had come from the journal of a ship captain, various maps and pages from old books were pasted on the walls. Closing my eyes, I relaxed to the sounds of soft jazz music and blurred conversations.
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, tasting 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, seeing as how my mouth was still full. 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 a sense of peace, nostalgia, and absolute pleasure.
Located in Fullerton on North Harbor Boulevard, the pub is British-owned and serves only the most genuine British cuisine. It is as authentic as it gets, looking exactly like the various pubs spread around London. The entire staff is from the United Kingdom, equipped with charming accents and beaming hospitality. The quality of their service is noteworthy as well, with the meals served in a timely matter and constant offers to bring more tea. Stepping into the pub on a cold evening is like being transported to the world of British people, historical references, and of course, lots of tea.
The food in the pub is spectacular. I have tasted three dishes so far: Drake’s chicken pie, Cutty Sark’s curry, and sticky toffee pudding; each one tasted amazing. Every object on the menu is named after famous British historical figures and locations. The menu provides a variety of dishes that appeal to everyone, including 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, seemingly home-cooked meals of The Olde Ship.
Aside from the food, what truly brings out the pub’s charm is its ambiance and authenticity. The music is soft and calming, while the lights are dim. The furniture uses a dark-colored wood, and despite the lack of space, it has an overall cozy feel. Unlike American sports bars, many British pubs do not have televisions. For entertainment, people actually talk and laugh with each other, as well as enthusiastically interact with the British bartenders. The environment is very positive and pleasant, which makes the pub a blissful escape from the overall stress of life.
As a lover of British culture, going to The Olde Ship was a wonderful experience for me. During my trip to England, visiting the pubs had been one of my favorite aspects of the vacation. I did not think that I would be able to experience that when I returned to America, and I yearned for that British charm. However, I was elated when I discovered The Olde Ship, and I was even more ecstatic after having a great meal. For people who love British comfort food and cozy conversation, this restaurant is a lovely haven.