We've all watched Man vs. Food and sighed as Adam Richman scoffs a 3lb double-dipped brisket-topped burger, while we take a sad bite from a cold ham sandwich. However, there is now some salvation for those who can't afford the first plane to America to join the chubby presenter.
The Smoke Haus on Wind Street attempts to deliver the gourmet pig-out sessions that Richman has made famous to the people of Swansea.
Immediately you will notice that the restaurant sports a rough-around-the-edges feel - a 'we-want-you-to-feel-like-this-place-has-been-open-for-decades-but-it's-actually-only-been-a-few-weeks' kind of look. It works well though - you don't want to be biting through a massive hot dog dripping with chili in a place with crisp white table clothes. The Artex walls, hastily-hung music posters and plastic table clothes give you nothing to concentrate on but the food.
|A deliberately casual decor|
However, before we discuss the food, I will give you a tip - avoid the table at the small booth next to the kitchen. Every time the kitchen door opened (at least once a minute) it slammed into the back of the seat. This annoyed me enough to make a note of it. Avoid that seat.
Now, the menu boasts plenty of American fare as you may expect - from double deep-fried hot dogs to brisket-topped burgers. I actually went for The New Orleans (£8.95), which is a beef pattie, topped with brisket and a pickle, served with a big basket of fries. Overall it was very tasty and, naturally, very filling. The only criticism I had was that there was no sauce on the burger - this made it a little dry. In the end I had to make do with mustard.
|My burger with brisket and pickle, along with plenty of fries|
My dining partner had The Traditional New Yorker beef hot dog and fries (£6.95), which was more than enough for lunch and had plenty of dog, sauerkraut and sauce (even enough for me to steal a quarter of it without complaint!).
|A big dog!|
And, yes - there are eating challenges. The Famous Smoke Haus Challenge offers ambitious eaters six intensely spicy 'WTF' (we all know what it stands for) chicken wings for £5.95 OR free if you can eat all six in ten minutes, with no napkins or drinking.
One nutcase on the table in front of us undertook the challenge as we were leaving. I caught a glimpse of his red face as he licked the sauce from the basket. Either it's not as difficult a challenge as the restaurant make out or he was a severe nutter (I suspect the latter). Anyone who completes this challenge, in addition to not having to pay for the wings, receives a t-shirt and mug-shot on the wall.
Other massive meals include the Big Bertha burger (five burgers in one bun, piled with cheese, bacon, etc) and the Head Banger hot dog (a metre-long dog with cheese and pickles). Not for the lightweights - especially at £18.95 a meal!
|Bit of Coke... no substitute for beer though!|
The drinks menu also impressed me, no more so than the fact that they serve Blue Moon - one of my favourite American ales - on tap. Along with a few different bottled beers and Coke served in the traditional glass bottle, there is plenty to wash your feast down with.
I've travelled America and been to a few of the Man vs. Food style restaurants and, while it will never be the same as visiting a genuine American eatery, it's safe to say that the Smoke Haus is the closest you'll come to sampling that food in Swansea.
---Check out my REVISIT to the Smoke Haus - a year later for lunch!