Restaurant review: The Ship Inn at Lathom is a dog-friendly Lancashire canalside pub with good grub

The Ship Inn at Lathom
The Ship Inn at Lathom
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When I informed my hubby that we would be heading to the Ship Inn at Lathom he was more than a little confused.

When I informed my hubby that we would be heading to the Ship Inn at Lathom he was more than a little nonplussed.

Fruit crumble and ice cream

Fruit crumble and ice cream

Given that he spent a good 30-plus years traversing the highways and byways of West and Central Lancashire picking up the pieces following pub fights, he reckons he knows just about every hostelry in the area...and plenty of those which have shut.

But the Ship Inn was a mystery. That is, until we went on the website to find its EXACT location.

‘Oh, you mean the Blood Tub. Well why didn’t you say that in the first place?,’ he said.

According to Mr P, this canalside pub’s local moniker is the Blood Tub, often shortened to the Tub. Apparently.

King prawn and chorizo

King prawn and chorizo

Let’s just say I was more than a little sceptical. But as ever, the other half had his history right. Well, he is considerably older than me!

The Blood Tub apparently got its name from one of two local legends - you can choose which you prefer.

The first refers to the odd fight outside amongst competing canal boat crews, after which the landlady refused to serve the bloodied combatants, insisting they first clean up in a water filled half-butt outside.

The second, my personal favourite, tells of a landlady who was a famed producer of black puddings. She sourced her pigs’ blood from her farmer customers, who exchanged the jugs of blood for ale.

Homemade calimari

Homemade calimari

So there you have it. This is why we love our pubs!

A 20-minute drive from just South of the Ribble and we had arrived at this lovely canalside pub. It is clearly popular - early on a Thursday evening the beer garden was looking full and there were plenty of people inside.

I was glad I had rung ahead and booked a table for two in the dog-friendly area. We were next to a log fire, not lit at this time of year, but you could see that it would be the perfect place for a Labrador to curl up while you ate on a winter’s afternoon.

I was thrilled to see that black pudding is still on the menu here, but although it did sound delicious, it was a bit too heavy for a hot summer’s evening.

Having spotted the calamari on the specials board, I knew my starter was sorted. Plenty of circles and spirals of squid with a light, homemade batter and delcious garlic mayonnaise and salad. The perfect summer dish.

Across the table, husband Bob went for king prawn and chorizo. The prawns were plump and plentiful and the chorizo gave it a kick as well as plenty of sauce...a tiny, warm loaf being provided for the purpose of mopping up. Another great start.

We stuck with the fishy theme for our main courses. Large fish and chips with mushy peas for Bob and another specials dish - sea bass for me. It came with some delicious vegetables and potatoes, although I confess I pinched a few of the chips on the other side of the table as they looked fabulous, which indeed they were. In fact, it would be worth heading to the Ship for these alone.

Both fish dishes were top notch and certainly a cut above your average pub food. The batter on the fish was light and tasty, while my seabass was perfectly cooked with the fish opaque and the skin crisp.

The dog approved too, although he was forced to wait a little too long for his liking for titbits.

We took a breather - and ordered more drinks - while we discussed if there was room for pudding.

The beer in the Ship is worthy of mention too. Four different real ales from which to choose, including the Ship’s special ale - hoppy and tasty - plus a blond ale, which took my fancy. It too was well-kept and went down a treat. It’s just a pity my intake had to be limited as I was the designated driver.

I indulged in some of Mrs Dawson’s ice-cream - vanilla and chocolate - for pudding, while across the table, the summer fruit crumble and ice-cream was chosen. The homemade crumble was packed full of fruit and delicious.

The bill for the three courses, including drinks, came to just over £60. That may seem a lot for a pub meal, but trust me, this was so much more. Lovely food, excellent service and great real ale.

We wandered along the canal afterwards to take in the idyllic setting and reflected that our drive into the country to the Tub would be one that we will almost certainly make again.

And next time we might even try some of that legendary black pudding.