The Pump House

1 04 2011

Fish and chips on a Friday is one of the great British traditions. Last Friday, when the sun was still shining brightly and our list of the best al fresco drinking spots in Bristol was still fresh in my mind, I took a trip to the Pump House overlooking the Floating Harbour, not just a pub housed in a historic building but a pub that now serves some of the best food in the city.

The Pump House is arguably at the rump end of the old docks, next to some brand new lock gates and the rumbling of traffic over the nearby swingbridge.

From its outside area, there is not much of a view, save for a bit of water, the Create Centre, a cheeky glimpse of Ashton Court and numerous walkers, cyclists and joggers going past. But it has an outside area, and that’s more than many pubs in Bristol can say.

The main draw to the Pump House is its food. Its pedigree is such that head chef Toby Gritten recently took part in a series of An Evening with the Chefs events, where he pitted his culinary prowess against Michelin-starred Sanchez-Iglesias brothers from Casamia in Westbury-on-Trym and Josh Eggleton from the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna, and also Nathan Muir from the New Inn in Backwell.

My fish and chips were exemplary. They were served on a slab of slate, with the thick-cut chips resembling a game of Jenga. It was accompanied by mushy peas and tartar sauce served in a shot glass. Washed down by a pint of St Austell’s Tribute, it was traditional fish and chips made with modern flare.

Food is very important at the Pump House; just look at the dozen different bar snacks on offer, from the usual bread and olives to devil’s poker sausages. It’s not just about eating in either. A hand-written sign outside advertises products to take away: bread, fishcakes, honey roast ham, chutneys and pickles.

Fish and chips on a Friday is a great British institution. The Pump House is becoming a great Bristol institution.

The Pump House, Merchant’s Road, Hotwells, Bristol. 0117 927 2229



2 responses

4 07 2012

4th July 2012
Has the Pumphouse been dramatically improved of late? I’ve been there on perhaps 5-6 occasions in the last 2 years hoping to have a great experience and always felt a bit let down…. I’ve done Sunday lunch with friends, posh evening upstairs in the quiet ‘nice area’ taking out my mum on a visit, mid-week with a bunch of 10 chums and lazy weekend drop-in with my girlfriend…. each time I’ve been unlucky enough to experience tired / fed-up or dis-interested staff and slow service….. I know good food takes time, but generally it’s been oddly long coming. The food, when it eventually comes, has on the whole been pretty damn good, but the lack of “feeling” and the wait each time soured my visits….

Should I go back again given your current report? Sunday roasts just 200 metres away at Rose of Denmark have proven much more fruitful over the years, while evening meals at places like the Lounge in Bedminster, Tobacco factory or downstairs Bordeaux Quay have proven far warmer and fulfilling….

17 10 2012

I enjoyed a Sunday lunch here a couple of weeks ago and would go so far as to say it’s the best I’ve had in Bristol.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: