Saturday 7 January 2012

The Mayflower, Rotherhithe Street, south London

A nautical 17th century pub right on the river, the Mayflower oozes history. Downstairs, the atmospheric bar and adjoining snugs seem to have changed little in the past three centuries. The black wooden beams are awash with lanterns, model ships and other maritime paraphernalia. If you are lucky, there might even be a regular with a black-eye and broken nose propping up the bar. Upstairs, the Mayflower boasts views over the Thames through the fine old lead-paned windows, while the tables bear elderly candlesticks and the battered walls are strewn with yellowing prints and pictures. On tap, the usual lagers are accompanied by a few real ales, such as Speckled Hen.

Delicious mushy peas
The Mayflower's food menu plays it fairly safe, but is supplemented by some meaty specials scrawled on the blackboards. Accompanied by decent mash and vegetables, the lamb shank (about £13) is good enough. Alternatively, the fish and chips are very crispy and tasty, but don't look too healthy. Still, you get some delicious mushy peas, flavoured with mint. If you want something vegetarian, the asparagus and tomato risotto comes in a generous portion and is pretty moreish. But you might be disappointed by the ham, fried egg and chips with grilled tomato (about £9) - the meat is wafer thin and looks a little processed. Among the deserts, the sticky toffee pudding is large, sweet to the point of being sickly and swimming in a thin custard. But it still tastes great. The chocolate fondant is less exciting - no liquid chocolate in the middle and not very warm, but the accompanying vanilla ice cream is good and it comes with a strawberry. Although the food isn't going to win any awards, it's not expensive. Better still, the serving staff are accommodating and genuinely warm, while the Mayflower itself is steeped in antiquated charm.  8/10