I'd like to thank my friend Jpathomas a.k.a. Stitch of Living in the Cloud for this great tip.)
(A Black & Tan with Guinness and Bass.)
The air is warm, thick porridge that oozes into my lungs with each gasping breath. In my head, a manic band of hobgoblins marches to God Save the Queen as a color guard of twirling pink elephants plays merry havoc with my optic nerves. My right temple pulses in time with the beat. My eyes water, the room swims. A voice cuts through the foggy haze swirling around my misfiring synapses and asks, "Would you like another pint, luv?" Too right I would.
(Christmas at the pub.)
The Olde Ship in Santa Ana is, as Cat says, aggressively British. Founded by ex-pats sick for a taste of home, and possibly sick of what we bloody colonials consider an acceptable pub, this temple to the gods of barley and hops delivers a much-needed weekly injection of alcohol to my hemoglobin infested veins. It also dishes up heaping servings of hearty English fare not for the faint of heart.
From oft-maligned fried-things-with-burnt-crunchy-bits to stick-to-your-ribs-for-a-week-stews, the offerings at the Olde Ship symbolize everything great and grand from the cook pots of our former imperial masters. Take the Cottage Pie, for example. Once an imaginative way to use up leftover meat and potatoes, this rich stew of ground beef and vegetables is tucked under a browned blanket of mashed potatoes and served as a bubbling, crusty plate of pure comfort.
Their Cornish Pasty takes it to the next level with tender chunks of beef baked in buttery pastry, then smothered with beef gravy. Craving mashed potatoes? Don't worry, they're on the plate and smothered in gravy as well.
The key to the Olde Ship's wonderfully heart-clogging meals seems to be a well-balanced blend of the three greatest food groups; fat, salt, and starch (often more than one), accompanied by an almost apologetic side of boiled peas and carrots. However, there's nothing bashful about anything they serve. Their roasts are particularly bold. Available for dinner during the weekends and holidays, their Roast Duck has a depth of flavor that belies the simplicity of its preparation. Once you bite into its moist meat and feel the crisp skin shatter under your teeth, you'll be hooked for life.
If you're unfortunate and the roast is already gone that evening, only Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding packs the meaty chutzpah needed to assuage your carnivorous frenzy. Be careful with the Yorkshire pudding. It's powerful juju. While it may look light and airy, it'll stay with you for the rest of the weekend. This is the stuff that gave Churchill the strength to hold back the Nazis.
However, if you're planning on hitting Disneyland afterwards, as Cat and I often do, and don't want to tip the boat for the Jungle Cruise, there are "lighter" options that will still provide a buffer against the warming goodness of beer. The Ploughman's Lunch, served with four different English cheeses, pickles, chutney, preserves, and all the bread you can eat, is a meal for two or hefty appetizer for four. One of their cheeses has pineapple chunks actually inside of it, hiding like tart little frontiersmen ready to scalp your Redcoat taste buds.
A side of Blood Sausage; dark, mysterious, and ruggedly sexy. The earthy combination of spiced blood and grains will get you through the hour wait for the Indian Jones ride.
There is no better drinking companion than the Scotch Egg, a hard boiled egg surrounded by a cricket ball-size lump of sausage, breaded, and deep fried. Served cold, sliced, and with pickles, it somehow makes sense. I salute the magnificent London bastard who invented it.
Cat pines for the flakey, moist sausage rolls served at Ren Faire, which are wholly different from the ghastly things they actually serve in the UK. The Sausage Rolls at the Olde Ship help assuage her cravings.
Mushy Peas are essential to keeping heartburn at bay when eating all those heavy, fried foods. Made with dry, not fresh peas, this soothing porridge gets its frighteningly vivid color from sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). The only way to eat it is with your eyes closed, otherwise you'll find yourself mesmerized.
Did you think I was done? Oh no no no. What about dessert, the most feared of British fare? The undisputed king at the Olde Ship is the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which, as the name states, is a steamed toffee bread pudding served with condensed milk. It's amazingly good.
The English Sherry Trifle is a familiar friend with a different look. Baked berries, cake moistened with sherry, and whipped cream, it's new yet not, and is related to some British favorites already popular in the States; cobblers and crumbles.
Spotted Dick, a boiled bread and current pudding with custard, is a misunderstood classic that perfectly encapsulates the prevailing American attitude towards British food. The dessert's unfortunate name has led to much lampooning in American media, most memorably in the 1990 John Goodman film King Ralph. The few Americans aware of Spotted Dick see it as dense, bland, and stodgy, indicative of a boring and retroactive culture we rebelled against, rejected, and outgrew. Yet, bread pudding with custard is a basic comfort food, delicious and simple, which Americans might enjoy if we'd only give it a chance.
The Olde Ship - As authentic a British pub as we bloody colonials are likely to find on this side of the pond. It's a little kitsch and just a wee bit trite, but good fun nonetheless. While most pubs in Britain aren't really like this, the Olde Ship is a spot of delicious fun in an otherwise dreary part of town.
Cottage Pie - 13.95
Cornish Pasty - 13.95
The Roast - 23.95
Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding - 15.95
Ploughman's Lunch - 14.95
Blood Sausage - 4.95
Scotch Eggs - 6.95
Sausage Rolls - 6.95
Mushy Peas - 3.95
Spotted Dick - 7.95
English Sherry Trifle - 7.95
Sticky Toffee Pudding - 7.95
The Olde Ship
1120 W 17th St
Santa Ana, CA 92706
The Olde Ship
709 N Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832