Food writer Chris visited the Pumphouse with a couple of friends to see if it was student-friendly.
Located in the heart of the Marina, the Pumphouse is slightly out of the way for most students. However, its warm atmosphere and stunning surroundings should be enough to entice you into this Swansea gem just off the beaten track.
The building itself is beautiful. Red brick walls, dark wooden tables and chairs and an industrial-style metal staircase create a lively setting, while a glass wall provides an excellent view looking out on to the water.
Despite all of our party ordering directly after one another at the bar, the meals did not come out together, and not in the order they were purchased in. The food came in good time despite this and eventually we were all tucking in. The restaurant filled up quickly and there was a lively buzz as we ate. The “Grills and More” burger stack (£8.95) that I ordered was well cooked, hot and tasty. It comprised two fat burgers, a rasher of bacon and lots of onion. The rasher was thick without any fat or gristle and the burgers were perfect; juicy and full of flavour.
We also ordered the beer-battered haddock and chips, served with peas, salad garnish, fresh lemon and tartare sauce (£7.50), Bacon-Wrapped Welsh Faggots served with mash and onion gravy (£6.95) and Spicy Chilli King Prawn & Chorizo Pasta (£6.95). The haddock was huge with a good crispy batter, but the chips it came with were nothing special and the teaspoon-sized portion of mushy peas looked like an afterthought. The main problem with this meal, however, was the bones. It wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the menu that they may be present, and whilst this may sound like common sense to take care when eating fish, many restaurants usually take extreme care to remove all the bones. The bacon faggots were nice, but the portion was small, although the mash was decent and made the bowl appear full, with a tasty drizzle of onion gravy. The ‘spicy’ chilli prawn and chorizo pasta was a disaster: bland and boring, with no hint of chorizo and barely a hint of spice.
There seemed to be a sense of confusion among the bar staff. When one of our party asked what the Sundae of the Day was, none of the bar staff could find an answer and there was no proper attempt to find out. A half-hearted shout to the kitchen was met with silence; after this it was clear the barman had given up. My companion was then obliged to order something else.
The Pumphouse is set in a beautiful location in a fantastic building. The interior is sublime, and the layout is a perfect mix of comfort and class. The food, however, is distinctly average and service was way below par for somewhere with this sort of price range and atmosphere. The main menu is extensive, but there is a severely limited menu offering a 2 for £9.99 deal if you’re looking for value, which runs Mon-Thurs and Fri until 5pm. All that said, the Pumphouse is an excellent place if you want a beer and a burger with a good group of friends in an enjoyable setting, and I’d recommend it if only to tick it off your list of “places to visit in Swansea”.
By Chris Woodward
Have you visited the Pumphouse? What did you think of your visit? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest somewhere new for Chris and our food team to try out.