The Pump Room - Bath - England
The Pump Room, Stall Street, Bath, BA1 1LZ, Tel: +44 (0)1225 477785
Shedding light on Quiz Question # 4.
This is the centre of Bath, and that is the City's old Abbey, the last great Gothic Church built in England. If you look more closely, you will see a Roman-style building to the right of the picture. This accounts for the crowds. Bath, in paticular its Roman Spa, is a top British tourist destination. The wait to see the beautiful ancient baths can be over an hour long at popular times.
If the thought of waiting that long in a queue makes you feel faint with hunger, you could always skip the history lesson* and have lunch at The Spa's Pump Room instead. (*If this is your once in a lifetime visit to Bath, I would actually recommend that you get there early, do the Spa tour and then take lunch afterwards.)
Waiting for a table at The Pump Room which was originally built as an orangery and opened in 1795.
Enjoy live music whilst you dine. If the famous Pump Room Trio aren't playing on your visit, you will be treated to the tunes of a solo pianist instead. We were unfortunately too early for afternoon tea, so we decided to have lunch. The menu included some good deal set menu options as well as A la Carte choices. I was happy to see that there was an emphasis on local ingredients, British recipes and even a wine from the area, the 'not at all bad' Mumford's White 2001.
Oak Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Blinis, Lemon and Cracked Pepper £6.95. The salmon was a perfect, dense orange, rich, buttery, silky, thick ribbon of succulent fish. Unfortunately the blini was buried under a huge, bland, flavourless(save for the small sliver of horseradish here and there), sickly mound of mayonnaise that added nothing to the plate. I removed the offending dressing to one side and enjoyed the fish unadulterated, save for a zingy squirt of fresh lemon and welcome little burst of saltiness from the shiny black roe.
Bath Sausages with Herb Creamed Potatoes and Red Onion Gem Ale Sauce (part of a set £15.75 2-course set lunch). My dad made a very good choice. He teased me by letting me taste a forkful. The combination of textures, smooth and creamy potatoes, crispy, crunchy onions and flavourful, meaty sausages all enhanced by a delicious gravy made for a lunch plate that displayed the best of simple British cuisine.
Warm Field Mushroom Pastry with Thyme, Garlic, Cream and Truffle Oil £9.95
I couldn't resist the sound of this tart which is related to a recipe I make regularly at home. I couldn't have done it better myself. It is so easy to overdo it these days, but this version was not in the slightest bit heavy handed with the truffle oil. The glistening mushrooms were plump and earthy against the dry, crunchy pastry softened by the delicate, herby cream sauce.
Dessert was less of a hit not least because the accompanying ice cream, containing little lumps of sugary biscuit and toffee, dramatically battled with the tart for attention. A good, plain, not too sweet scoop of vanilla would have made a far better companion.
The one thing you must do, whether you just pass straight through the Pump Room after your Roman Bath tour, or actually stop for a meal there, is try a glass of the spa water containing 43 minerals. It tastes a little bit funky so I asked the water server if anyone actually drank it for sheer pleasure. She replied "Some people actually finish their glasses but no one has ever actually said that they like it".
And although it has got nothing to do with food, if you are ever in Bath you must check out Pulteney Bridge. It is one of only four in the world lined by shops on both sides and is quite spectacular in a quaint olde worlde kind of way.