The Ship Inn, Newnham-on-Severn

The blue exterior of the cosy Ship Inn, Newnham-on-Severn

The blue exterior of the cosy Ship Inn, Newnham-on-Severn

One early March Friday evening, we headed to The Ship Inn in the pretty Forest of Dean waterside village, Newnham-on-Severn. It’s not difficult to find The Ship – it’s along the A48, in the centre of the village’s High Street and is painted bright blue, which I’m sure has been done for people to find it but also as a talking-point. After all, talking-points are the basis of all of the The Ship’s marketing ploys to lure visitors through its door.

In the past The Ship’s owner has unveiled the ‘Rat Burger’ – a lamb burger with rosemary and thyme, rather than a flattened roadkill courtesy of the A48 – and it is still on the menu. More recently the ‘Titanic Burger’, (deep breath in) a stack of ¼ lb steak burger, ¼ lb bacon burger and a 1/4lb minted lamb burger with three toasted buns, three potato rosti, red onion, sliced tomato, tomato ketchup and minted mayo, and of course the killer Iceburg (breathe out), was in the limelight. Gluttons who fancy themselves a ‘Man vs. Food’ legend are welcome to come and sink a Titanic (at £17.95) and if successful, make The Ship’s very own hall of fame. In addition to these key talking-points, you can often see signs along the neighbouring road to beckon passing-trade for their custom.

The relaxing restaurant environment at The Ship Inn

The relaxing restaurant environment at The Ship Inn

There is sometimes difficulty to park near The Ship – you need to find a space some where along the High Street as the pub/restaurant doesn’t have its own car park. After you push open the pub’s creaky entrance door you are met with a cosy, warm-lit small bar area to the right and the restaurant to the left. The interior has a nautical theme with natural wood, beige and mint-green and the sparkle of polished surfaces, crockery and glass make you well aware you are in a clean and relaxing environment.

We ordered some drinks at the bar, where a few locals sat on bar stools nursing half-drunk pints of lager, before we were seated in the lovely restaurant. We took our pint of Peroni and half pint of Scurvy Cure cider through to our table. The cider is very good but unfortunately I didn’t find out who makes it. Although a later conversation revealed the reason behind the cider’s name; apparently years ago sailors used to take cider on voyages as water or fruit would not preserve very well and the vitamins in cider would prevent the onset of scurvy.  Quite a convenient story about the cider that is served in a conveniently-named pub.

The lady on front-of-house advised us of the specials board, with a nod to the ½ lb barbeque beef burger with fries. We opted for two burgers, with a side-order of onion rings, to enjoy after the starters of whitebait with tartar sauce and filo prawns with sweet chilli dip.

Filo prawns and sweet chilli dip

Filo prawns and sweet chilli dip

When the starters arrived they were on a starter plate with a small bit of garnish and a ramekin. The starters to be honest, were pretty bog standard but I didn’t really expect any more – given we had ordered the filo prawns and whitebait.   The starters weren’t fresh, they had been bought in bulk – probably in a big box from Bookers – and thrown into a deep-fat fryer. I can tell, as for many years as a student I worked as a waitress and kitchen-prep – and I know a cash and carry, pub-grub, pre-made starter when I see one. The starters were edible, as I said I knew what to expect when we ordered.


1/2 lb barbeque burger and chips

1/2 lb barbeque burger and chips

After our empty plates had been collected our mains soon followed. Two burgers with fries and a side of onion rings were plopped down on the table in front of us. The first thing I thought was how enormous the vessel-like burgers were and that we didn’t need the extra side.

The gigantic bap stack was held together by its wooden crucifix, and the mountain of skinny chips accompanied it on a tin plate covered with parchment not unlike the stuff you get at an Ed’s Diner.  Pulling apart the burger I could see the a melted slice of cheese – possibly Monterey Jack (if not, it should have been) – under a gloop of sticky dark barbeque sauce. Underneath the beef was a potato hash on salad.


You need to use a knife and fork for the burgers at The Ship and the first slice of the beef I saw that the meat was cooked medium to medium-rare. The flavours of the juicy meat, with the smoky-sweet sauce and the creamy tang of the cheese was a heavenly combination. I was very glad the burgers were recommended to us as it was seriously delicious. The bun, although I didn’t eat too much, was white, soft and floury and very pleasant. The only criticism I do have is that I would have liked to say the onion rings were home-made – I think they had made the same trip back down the A48 from Bookers with the filo prawns and whitebait.

The burgers at The Ship are well worth the trip to Newnham for and I recommend that you go hungry. The atmosphere of the restaurant is always nice. I’m sure the landlord has some more talking-points up his sleeve and so in terms of the menu, I don’t think this ship has yet well and truly sailed. For now, anyway.

Dinner for two at The Ship for two courses, drinks and a tip came to £60.00.

The Ship, High Street, Newnham-on-Severn. GL14 1BY. Tel: 01594 516283.


The Parrot Bar and Grill, Cheltenham

I studied in Cheltenham and would often pass The Parrot Bar and Grill.  I was always intrigued by its warm Cotswold Stone exterior, wielding individual gold letters.  I’d also heard rumour that the Like a Prayer singer, Madonna, used to drink there.  There’s probably some truth in this Chinese whisper as the cone-breasted entertainer once checked out the Cheltenham Ladies College for her daughter.  As an impressionable student, with hardly any exposure to celebrities in those days, I thought it was pretty cool.

The Parrot Bar and Grill

The Parrot Bar and Grill, Cheltenham

A good few years later, and after learning The Parrot serves Kobe (possibly the best beef in the world) steak, my other half and I decided to give it a try.  It’s the only place in Gloucestershire that serves it.

We went on a cold evening and were drawn to the sandy, warm gleam of the building’s outer, like moths to a lightbulb.  Inside it was dark but in a strange way, cosy.  The interior was different to how I imagined; the bar was in the centre of the room, and looked like something from a film where people rock up to some isolated hotel in the middle of the countryside.  The restaurant was to the right of the entrance, on a slightly raised level, with walls painted with a burnt orange colour and furnished with black tables and chairs.

We had the trio of scallops to start.  It arrived nicely presented with three scallops wedged on a thick piece of black pudding, surrounded by a circle of pea puree.  The scallops were cooked well, slightly crispy with a soft centre.  Yet the scallop/ black pudding ratio was completely off-scale and I think it would be more appropriate to have it on the menu as ‘black pudding served with a trio of scallops and pea puree’.  Nevertheless, the flavour combinations were good.

Kobe beef

Kobe steak

Two 8oz Kobe fillet steaks with triple-cooked chips, salad and a side of port and stilton sauce were served as our main.  The plates came out hot which meant the salad garnish was warm, wilted and pathetic.  That aside, the chips were long, thick and golden; the steak glistening and beautifully charred.  When sawing the meat with the steak knife it was so tender that I wouldn’t be surprised if a butter knife could do the same damage.  Inside the meat was pink and cooked to perfection.  When I popped it into my mouth fireworks went off in my mind, I hardly had to chew and it tasted immense.  It is the best steak I have ever eaten.

I love a good sauce, especially if it has stilton in it, but the jug of deliciousness we had ordered remained practically untouched.  The steak spoke for itself, I would even go as far to to say it gave a rich and grandiose monologue of self-superiority.

The Parrot was definitely worth the trip for the Kobe fillet steak alone.

The Parrot Bar and Grill is now closed.