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Wednesday 25 April 2012

Jazz Dinner at The Pump House

Whilst browsing the list of restaurants involved in the Eat Drink Bristol Fashion event, trying to decide what tickets to buy. I considered all and took a peek at their sample menus online. When I reached the Pump House website what caught my eye was that they were doing a jazz evening a week or so before Eat Drink Bristol started. Rich is a big jazz fan so by this point my mind was made up. The Pump House was out of the Eat Drink Bristol race but still in the spotlight.

When I rang to book I was offered the bar or the restaurant menu, I went with restaurant. I wanted to fully experience everything the Pump House had to offer. So Wednesday last week Rich, myself and Claire went to immerse ourselves in the musical stylings of Bristol born saxophonist James Morton. We were greeted very enthusiastically by their front of house and led upstairs to the dining area.

The Pump House offer a 3 courses for £20 on selected items on their menu which is an excellent deal. Rich and I however weren't swayed by the main courses in the deal, something more thrilling had caught our eyes. The name of our paramour was Celebration of Local Beef. This was a sharing main so Rich bowed out of having a starter in order to focus his full attention on the beef party. Claire and I did decide on a starter however. I went for the slow poached duck egg which sat on top of new season English asparagus topped with hollandaise and with dots of pink grapefruit surrounding it. Claire picked their smoked eel and Parsonage Farm egg with grain mustard mayonnaise, apples and field sorrel.

Slow Poached Duck Egg with New Season Asparagus
Pump House Bristol Starter
Smoked Eel with Parsonage Farm Egg
My duck egg I was informed had been cooked for 5 hours at 50 degrees which seemed baffling that it could taste so creamy and smooth after 5 hours of cooking even at a low 50 degrees. Duck eggs are for me always a rare delight. I hardly ever have them but each time I do I think how I want to eat more of them but I always forget, a bit like pancakes on pancake day. The asparagus was cooked to perfection, the whole dish was a light delight. Sampling Claire's smoked eel I found it to be delicate and much tastier than I was anticipating. I have only ever had eel cooked in tempura as part of a maki roll at a sushi restaurant. The egg was described as perfectly cooked and delightfully flavoursome. You can see from the photo that it pays to get decent quality eggs, just look at the vivid orange of the yolk, no insipid colours here.

A Celebration of Local Beef, Main Board

A Celebration of Local Beef , Steak and Kidney Pudding Side Dish
The Celebration of Local Beef did not give that much away from the menu description: "celebration of local beef with triple cooked chips and horseradish ice cream". When it arrived there were some surprises that greeted us. Some wonderfully rare steak, shredded fried ox tongue pieces, a small steak and kidney pudding and two portions of bone marrow. I pride myself on mostly being up for trying everything but I appreciate that some aren't as adventurous as myself.  The steak pieces were the crowning glory on this board, simply cooked and it really showed off the quality of the meat. The ox tongue was really tasty and slightly crispy it sort of reminded me of the crispy shredded beef you get in Chinese restaurants, salty and completely different in flavour than I was expecting.

The steak in the steak and kidney pudding melted in the mouth, the suet crust was rich and complimentary, nothing like the horrors some people might have experienced from such a dish when presented it at school.  As for the sides, the triple cooked chips were enormous and deceivingly filling but really delicious, fluffy on the inside crispy on the outside, just as chips should be. For me the beetroot was a revelation. I am not that big a fan of beetroot, but roasted lightly it was slightly sweet but still so moist we both couldn't get enough of it. The horseradish ice cream was interesting because once on the plate it melted pretty quickly but the taste was a light cream with the delicate flavour of horseradish. I would argue it could have been a little stronger flavoured but that is just a small quibble. Rich and I were more delighted with the beefy gravy that came with the board, strongly flavoured and perfect with the beetroot and chips.

The only let down for us personally was the bone marrow. I think this is just a personal taste thing because I have never got on with bone marrow that well. I have tried lamb bone marrow before and found it a little nicer in flavour than beef.  It was heavily salted and very rich. I just could not get on with eating salty fat on it's own, but the quality of the bone marrow was superb, in stock or a soup this would be divine, alone however, it was just not for me.
Steamed Cornish Hake 
Claire had the Steamed Cornish Hake with Palourde clams, Clevedon coastal vegetables and Jerusalem artichoke puree. Stating she had never had clams before, proclaimed them to be delicious. I tried a little of the hake and agreed with her that it was a little dry. I think this may be hake in general though from what I have sampled of it in the past. The accompaniments were perfect and complimented the clams and hake beautifully.

Although we were all pretty full we thought it best peek at the dessert menu. I was immediately drawn to the apple tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream and calvados custard. Readers of this blog may already know how   much I adore cinnamon. Rich and Claire went for the crème brûlée cappuccino with cinnamon doughnuts.
Apple Tarte Tatin
Crème Brûlée Cappuccino with Cinnamon Doughnuts
For me my dessert was quite disappointing. The tarte tatin wasn't caramelised at all and the pastry quite dry. I was really looking forward to a sticky sweet caramel and it was just not what I would call a tarte tatin it was more like a miniature apple pie. The saving grace was the cinnamon ice cream which was absolutely gorgeous. Claire and Rich really lucked out on their puddings the home made doughnuts had a different filling, one was apple and the other chocolate then coated in cinnamon sugar.

Sleepy and full of food we headed down to watch the rest of the jazz and discuss the meal before walking home. The Pump House's food is high quality throughout with some different dishes that you may not have tried before. It is definitely worth booking up for a visit because you will not be disappointed. I am looking forward to going back for the next jazz night and this time sampling the bar menu. To check out events and sample menus for the Pump House visit their website .

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