The Ship Inn has weathered many ebbs and flows through its long history at its Exton location. In the latest twist, owners Michael and Gertie Person became minor culinary celebrities when the 18th-century structure got a Robert Irvine-style makeover on a July 2021 episode of the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.
Not far from the Ship Inn, Gertie has enjoyed more consistent success with her Duling Kurtz House & Country Inn. Given the opportunity to turn his vessel around, her husband was open and honest about the inn’s mounting debt and his habit of micromanaging employees, not to mention his dwindling reputation with the area’s dining public. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and the Ship Inn was veering dramatically off course.
Irvine highlighted some solvable menu and management challenges. Meanwhile, his design team orchestrated a much-needed gutting and redesign of the inn’s casual dining area and bar. Whitewashed wood flooring has replaced ’70s-era carpeting. Sail-shaped white canvas wall dividers and polished brass fixtures offset a calming blue palette, giving the room a more authentic nautical feel. The new sand-colored mottled marble tables are chic and the cushioned camel-colored chairs comfortable. Elsewhere, three formal dining rooms were left untouched due to their historic significance.
The menu has been revamped to include a contemporary Irvine-constructed stack of crispy brie, grape tomatoes and arugula drizzled with green goddess dressing, along with a Korean barbecue chicken cheesesteak. The spice-crusted swordfish and vegan eggplant pita are also new. Our shrimp ceviche with pineapple was a tad too sweet, but the house burger and authentic Wiener schnitzel were spot on. House-made desserts change daily, and they pair well with a cup of Irish coffee. There’s also a dog-friendly patio in warmer months.
693 E. Lincoln Hwy., Exton, (610) 363-7200, shipinn.net
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