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This is one ship that isn't sinking!
Ferryboat Inn (Mablethorpe)
Member Name: supersonic75
Ferryboat Inn (Mablethorpe)
Advantages: Good food, reasonable prices, great atmosphere
Disadvantages: None at all for me
I've been visiting Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire for holidays all of my life as my grandparents owned a caravan on the Golden Sands site (now Haven). Since they both passed away a few years ago myself and my family have continued to still holiday there opting to stay in a nearby chalet park which is quite close proximity to The Ferryboat pub. Whilst my review will concentrate on my most recent visit, which was at the end of October 2012, it is a pub that we visit whenever we are in Mablethorpe so I have had plenty of opportunities to sample both food, drink and get a feel for the ambience as well as getting to know the bar staff.
The Ferryboat Inn is located near to the popular attraction of the Seal & Animal Gardens at the North End of the beach. Whilst most places in Mablethorpe are easily accessible by walking, there is a car park adjacent to the Ferryboat though it doesn't belong to the pub itself, and is a paying one which is manned from around 8am to roughly 5pm for people who are visiting the Animal Gardens. After 5pm (sometimes 6/ 6.30pm in high season) it is usually free though as just mentioned it is in walking distance of around 5 minutes from the nearby caravan and chalet parks. The pub is situated at the entrance to the beach and is just off of the main road with a small, but busy at times, roundabout just in front of the doors. As the roundabout is near to a bus terminal as well as the aforementioned car park it can be busy at peak times so keeping small children close and dogs on leads for safety is advisable.
**Interior & Exterior**
The Ferryboat looks like quite a large pub from the outside and whilst it's quite spacious inside it is much smaller than you think as part of the building houses a small games and penny arcade which is joined onto the building. Years ago the arcade was partly where the pub area is now with the now arcade being a small bingo hall which was very popular with local holiday makers, then around 20 years ago or so the building was turned into mainly a pub with the arcade still being very much at the heart of the building and proving successful with children and parents alike.
On walking up the wheelchair friendly ramp and through the double pull open doors you are greeted with a smart interior which is very smart yet has a down to earth and friendly feel as soon as you step inside. The pub has several large windows though as they are slightly tinted it's hard to see both in and out though the pub inside is very bright due to the electric lighting that is provided by the many lamps dotted around.
The pub is one large room which is segregated into different sections with the 'drinkers' area as you walk through the door. This area features several comfortable sofa style seats as well as lots of small round tables with buffets. There is a large screen on the wall which is popular with holiday makers and locals as it shows several major sporting events and whilst children and families are welcome in this area it tends to be frequented more by adults. The bar is adjacent to the door on walking in and features 4 tall buffets but these are mostly unused so getting served isn't too much of a problem even in high season when it's busy as it's quite easy to get to the bar.
To the left on entering the pub is a small sectioned area which houses several small leather seats and coffee tables. This is the only area in the pub which states 'No Children' are allowed though there is access through double doors to the arcade in this area as well as the disabled toilet so children are allowed through it's not encouraged. The main 'family room' is straight forward through the main entrance and to the left, which is part of the main room but is segregated for mainly eating as it's close to the kitchen. This room is long and narrow and features a few round tables down the centre with buffets, whilst against the wall there are several large rectangular shaped tables with buffets on one side and long padded seating against under the windows. There are also two flat screen TV's at either end of the room which mainly feature adverts and music videos unless there is a sports match of some kind on, though the TV's are normally turned down quite low and blend into the background so aren't too intrusive.
There is a small door at the bottom near to the kitchen doors which lead to a small corridor where the male and female toilets are on either side, whilst straightforward is another entrance into the arcade which also features a pool table (cues and white ball are available via a small refundable deposit from the bar).
The outside of the pub is well worth a mention as it's a main attraction for thirsty holiday makers in the hot weather. To the side of the main building is an ice cream parlour which also sells a variety of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks and an assortment of beach toys such as bucket and spades. If not manned then everything on offer can be purchased from inside the bar though in high season there tends to be someone in the small kiosk area as it's a popular stop off both to and from the beach.
Just before the main entrance there are the first of 15 or so large picnic style benches which line the entire building, and whilst some are in direct sunlight there are several which are shielded from the hot rays as it's a sun spot where the pub is situated. The building is an 'L' shape and there is a small shelter area in the form of a canopy in the corner part, which though it has been there for years is frequented more so now by smokers as it's perfect shielding from all the elements regardless of the weather. What attracts people outside even when the weather is less than inviting is the fact there is not only a perspex style roof but also patio heaters and a large TV screen on the outside of the building which caters for people who want to enjoy food and drink (or smoke) whilst outside in the open air.
**What's on the menu?**
The Ferryboat offers good value, affordable 'pub grub' which includes a few light bites such as:
*Jacket potatoes with various fillings
to mention a few examples, all priced reasonably between £1.95 upwards.
The children's menu has choices of:
*Chicken Teddy Shapes
*Fish Whale Shapes
*Cottage Pie (small portion)
All are served with either chips or mash and with various different vegetables which you are asked about first on ordering with prices from £3 for a generous sizing.
A few years ago there used to be free ice cream with flavour of your choice as a dessert making it exceedingly good value but they have since revoked this (well over the past 2 years) and now you have to order and pay for desserts separately, and whilst disappointing it's still good value.
Mains include various 'pub food' meals including:
*Chicken Breast Portion
*Various burgers in a bun (Chicken/ steak/ beef)
*Chilli Con Carne
*Chicken Tikka Massala
*Tuna Pasta bake
*Half or Full rack of BBQ Ribs
*Roast Dinner and all the trimmings
*Yorkshire pudding and various fillings
*Steak Pie & gravy
*7oz/ 9oz Haddock
these are to name but a few.
Vegetarian offerings are unfortunately thin on the ground with the following available:
*Cheese & Broccoli Bake
*Vegetarian Vegetable Kiev
*Quiche (various flavours)
*Tomato & Cheese Omelette
There is a selection of desserts which change quite often so it's worth asking when ordering as they have cake and buns in a display case situated at the end of the bar whilst items such as cheesecake and hot puddings are readily available on a regular basis on the everyday menu.
Prices are very agreeable, with the main meals costing between £4.99 and £6.25 (barring the full rack of ribs which is around the £9 mark) and all the meals are accompanied with a choice of either chips, mash, beans or rice and salad or vegetables and plates are stacked high.
My own personal experience is of the female toilets though I have it on good authority from a disabled friend that the disabled toilet is clean and adequately stocked, whilst my husband has said the men's toilets are very clean and tidy and quite spacious to say the toilet block only looks little. The women's toilets are always very clean, even when the pub is packed with revellers as they are checked quite frequently and the toilet block houses two separate toilets and two sinks with the usual vending machines on the wall. There is a hand dryer which whilst it does the job, it extremely slow and takes forever and whilst it does get hands dry (eventually) more often than not you end up with damp hands still!
**Ordering and service**
The main room and family room has numbered tables up to 70 and each table has a menu placed in the centre. Once you have chosen what you want to eat you order from the bar where there is a designated food till at one end away from the drinks tills. The staff will first ask you your table number then once you have ordered your food you are required to pay there and then and you are given a receipt.
Next to the food till are the condiments, napkins and cutlery (etc) which is self service and once you are seated the food is brought out to you by a waitress. I've found even in busy times that there isn't usually a wait of longer than 20 minutes for food and whilst the waitresses often seem stressed at times they are still friendly and always ask if everything is okay.
Although there isn't much from the menu that we haven't tried over the years, as it hasn't changed much, our most recent visit saw us all order our favourites. My husband chose the chilli con carne with rice and salad which was served steaming hot with the rice cooked to perfection and the salad was crisp and fresh. My two young sons had a mini 7" cheese & tomato pizza each which both arrived with chips, peas and a small amount of salad. I opted for my personal favourite choice from the menu being the vegetable kiev. Although I eat white meat and fish these days after a 10 year stint of being vegetarian I still always tend to opt for a vegetarian meal when eating out and the vegetable kiev at the Ferryboat is one of the finest. It is made up of several chopped vegetables mixed with a creamy garlic sauce and topped off with bread crumbs and this arrived with chips and salad and a side order of onion rings.
The food is home cooked (not home made) but tastes very fresh and is always presented nicely on the plates, even at very busy times.
The bar staff are always very friendly, in particular an older gentleman that has worked there for as long as I can remember and is always chatty and friendly even when the pub is very busy. Having worked in pubs myself over the years I know how hard it is to keep a smile on your face when customers aren't always being compliable but the staff at the Ferryboat are always friendly and helpful in any way they can.
Although the pub can get extremely busy in the high Summer season it's never dirty or scruffy. In the family room empty plates are immediately taken away and tables are swiftly wiped down, whereas if there is excess mess on the floor from food falling then the staff are quickly on hand to sweep the mess or at times I've seen them ask customers if it's ok if they get the Henry vacuum out.
The only down side is being so close to the beach there are often little bugs or flies which can be irritating when eating outside and if all the windows are open in the family room as it's next to some sand dunes.
I think the overall answer here is a resounding Yes. I've never had a bad experience whilst visiting the Ferryboat and hopefully I never will. It's a place that we always visit when we stay at Mablethorpe as it's a stone throw away from our accommodation and especially in nicer weather it's lovely to sit outside and enjoy a relaxing drink. My children love it too as they always take some of their spending money to play in the arcade after we have eaten and it's popular with everyone, be it locals or holiday makers.
On our last visit we ordered a drink each (1/2 of carling for myself, 1 pint of bitter for my husband and 2 fruit shoot substitutes for my boys) which came to under £5 and our food bill total for the four of us was under £20 at £19.30 making it exceptional value for the quality and quantity of the food.
This is highly recommended by me whether it's for eating or just enjoying a relaxing drink by the beach and gets the full 5 stars from me.
Summary: A good value family pub that is popular with everyone