You’ve probably heard of The Ship by now – its beer garden is a veritable behemoth of the Bank Holiday weekend, with beers, banter, and more Russell Group grads than you can shake a Barbour jacket at. Ship Sundays, where the Exeterati descend upon Wandsworth Bridge to dance in boathouse cabins and sip Aperols by the riverside, are busier than Putney Bridge on the Boat Race.

As soon as the mercury hits a balmy 15 degrees, you can bet every WhatsApp group chat in South West London is ringing with the comforting chimes of “Ship?” “Ship.” It’s an institution, a way of life. But the question remains: what of the rest of the week? When the sun goes in and working life’s quotidian humdrum continues to chug along, is an evening at The Ship still, well, ship shape?

Aye aye, captain. Venture below deck (inside) and you’ll discover that this ship has hidden depths (a burger shack). It’s everything you could want from a pub: a light, breezy conservatory; a cozy table-service restaurant; a private ‘boardroom’ for group bookings, if your office meeting needs a tipple or three to fully set sail. Chesterfield leather sofas line rustic oak bars, and the furnace centrepiece makes the whole place feel like a rain-proof April garden party. It’s meandering, lived-in, and homely.

The Ship, Wandsworth

The pints are local, too. Young’s first pale ale – London Original – was first brewed next door at the Ram’s Brewery 160 years ago. It’s refreshing, fruity, and just the right amount of bitter (wry cousin, not jaded aunt). If you fancy something a little more confrontational, London Special is a nutty amber malt, stewed with apples and pears – hearty stuff.

The more Transatlanticly-included among us could check out Deya’s Steady Rolling Man, a Blues-inspired pale ale with hops straight from the States. The cocktails won’t rock the boat, ranging from £16 for a negroni or gin martini to a 12-quid strawberry daiquiri, and the wines max out at £120 for a Macán Clásico Rioja.

The Ship, Wandsworth

The grub is a nice mix of classic pub fare and millennial pop-up. While I can’t be certain that the game in the pheasant and venison stew was reared in Wandsworth, by the looks of some of our neighbours, it may well have been locally-hunted. It was filling and warming, with sage and mustard dumplings to sop up any leftovers. It’s hardly a steal at £18.50, but hey, you’re ordering pheasant in Wandsworth – read the room, Shipmates.

Every Sunday, the open kitchen does a full roast, if you need to line your stomach before the resident DJ arrives. Just outside, there’s a burger shack – the kind of place that serves vaguely erotic ‘dirty’ fries and ‘loaded’ burgers, with more drippings than a Luca Guadagino film. The wings were sticky and spicy, and the fries suitably curly. It’s the kind of food you’d drool over after a sunny afternoon of pints on the terrace.

The Ship, Wandsworth

That’s still the best way to experience The Ship, and probably just life in general: sat with your mates underneath the fairy lights, looking out onto the river as the sun goes down. You can, if you so wish, get a pitcher of beer for the table. The nautical cabins have heaters if tartan blankets aren’t enough to keep you warm.

It’s up for debate whether the classic phone booth outside is functional, but you can bet you’ll be ringing up anyone you can as soon as the Cosmo starts flowing. There’s a pub quiz on Wednesdays, and a midnight disco on Saturday. You really could make a (very) long weekend of it.

So, yes, it’s not called London’s Best Beer Garden for nothing. But with classic food, cozy atmosphere, and a whole lot of camel coats, The Ship is ahoy quality day out any time of year. The review basically writes itself.

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41 Jews Road, Wandsworth, SW18 1TB; The Ship