Iconic South Bank Hotel, Ship Inn, turns 150...

I know we've been spending a lot of time on the Gold Coast lately but rest assured we haven't forgotten about Brisvegas. We decided to stick closer to home last weekend so we paid a visit to the iconic South Bank Hotel, The Ship Inn. Now you may think you know the real Ship Inn.... we sure thought we did. I will admit we went in with prejudiced minds...expecting to have a typical pub experience, with typical pub food...





Boy, were we mistaken. Don't get me wrong Ship Inn is, indeed, a pub... BUT this pub has high standards when it comes to food. We were fortunate enough to have a nice chat with owner, John Mander-Jones

First things first, a history lesson to celebrate Ship Inn's 150th birthday....



This hotel was built in 1864 by Daniel Donlvan. It was originally named The "New Bowen Hotel". In 1866 it was changed to The "Railway Hotel" as the area braced itself for the new rail line from Ipswich. In the beginning business was good. The wharf was very busy as cotton was being exported to America due to the American Civil war. However, hard times fell on Donlvan and he was forced to abandon the hotel in 1867. After that, the hotel became a sort of boarding house under the new name of "Acton House" It regained its licence in 1879 and became "The Ship Inn" which it has been known as ever since. With the arrival of the railway in the late 1870's Ship Inn enjoyed great prosperity. During WWII Ship Inn became a popular spot for American troops, especially coloured troops who were forbidden from socializing outside of South Brisbane. In the early 1970s the Dry Dock closed and trams ceased operation. The Ship Inn noticed a dramatic decrease in clientèle and were forced to shut their doors. 

In 1988 they reopened during the world expo but closed at its completion. Ship Inn reopened in 1992 and was purchased by Griffith University in 2000. In 1993 the hotel was removed from the national heritage register due to the renovations carried out during the Expo. The university fortunately retained the North side of the building. The current owners took a long term lease in 2004 and helped transform the hotel into the thriving gastro pub it is today. 



Here's something you may not know....Ship Inn is BIG on sustainability. They use local and seasonal produce when ever possible and prefer organic & biodynamic. In fact, many of the products used at Ship Inn are sourced within a 200km radius! In 2012 they received an Eco Biz partnership and received a BSB Sustainability Award. Don't you just love supporting ethical businesses? We do! 


So, how was the food you ask? 

For our entree we shared a tapas platter which consists of the Chefs selection of tapas served with toasted bread...

The tapas platter was bursting with goodies: cheeses, prawn parcels, spring rolls, salami, etc...


Exquisite! This arrangement of little nibbles was the perfect start to lunch. Our highlights? The olives are a definitely must try- so delicious! You can't go past the pesto either. John grows his own herbs and makes it fresh himself. If he ever decides to bottle it up we're buying. 


For our mains we had lamb cutlets in mixed herbs, served with roasted kipler potatoes, roast beetroot, green beans, chorizo and macadamia nuts finished with a balsamic reduction ....and T-Bone Surf & Turf which consists of a 350g T-Bone steak topped with 4 prawns in garlic & coriander sauce served with crushed sweet potato and garden salad...



You have to try the lamb if you visit Ship Inn. It's there speciality! I know what you're thinking....Lamb? Why lamb? Well, John is a country boy and he grew up around lamb. He knows a lot about it. You won't doubt his expertise when you taste it. This lamb was top notch. The most tender, juicy lamb dish I've ever eaten. It was as if with one bite all the lamb I had ever eaten disappeared and there was only Ship Inn lamb. I think that's how it should be. 



Do I really need to talk about the T-Bone? I mean look at it....This steak was perfection on a plate (or platter) The presentation was spot on. You know a dish looks good when you consider eating it before you photograph it.

There are only three items on the dessert menu at Ship Inn but don't let that deter you from trying their sweet treats. I'm a firm believer that quantity doesn't always equal quality. The three items on the dessert menu at Ship Inn are done very...very well.

We enjoyed the warm chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream and mixed berry compote...and creme brulee...



John told us during our chat that there are four major things he looks for before serving a dish to a customer.Those four things are: Taste, Appearance, Texture, Colour. If food tastes good, looks good, has a variety of textures, and a bit of colour the customer will enjoy eating it. The food at Ship Inn ticks all the boxes. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Ship Inn and will definitely be back. Next time you are at South Bank visit the Ship Inn. 


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*AmeriAus was the guest of Ship Inn. All opinions expressed are our own.