Our first night in Jersey I had booked us into Mark Jordan at the Beach. More casual than Jordan’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the Atlantic hotel, we thought it would be more our speed. And it proved to be the perfect start to a relaxing holiday – the staff were that perfect balance of professional and warm and from the start we felt welcomed and at ease. We sat outside and had a perfect view of the beach. The view really is lovely, right across the long crescent of St Aubin’s bay, but at the same time the tables are tucked under a roof, so it doesn’t feel too much like a picnic. I’m not a huge fan of eating outdoors, so this combination of elegant white tablecloth service and heated terrace with a pretty view of nature is ideal for me.
Our charming (ok and cute) waiter started us off with some amuses bouches. I often find these dull, even in the fanciest of restaurants, perhaps because the kitchen has to please everyone, but these were killer. Fresh anchovy wrapped in thin cucumber and petite little crab sandwiches with crème fraîche went down a treat with the omnivores and set up expectations of something of a seafood orgy to come.
The Lemurs couldn’t resist ordering lobster thermidor for our main courses. I wouldn’t normally go for something quite so extravagant, but hey, we were on holiday, and truth be told, none of the other mains looked quite as much fun. This restaurant has something of a theme of old-school dishes made in a modern style and this was the perfect example. The substantial crustaceans came rustically piled on a wooden board with asparagus and spinach, and they were just as divine as they look. Lobster, cheese, wine…what’s not to love?
There was only one vegetarian dish, as is sadly usual in upscale restaurants, but for once it actually appealed to Thrifty Gal (or, as she shall henceforth be known, Geek Goddess. She has a lot of blogs and you all should be reading this one!) Fried gnocchi were surprisingly light but came with many of the same spinachy-cheesy pleasures as the lobster.
And of course, everyone was excited by the arrival of the Jersey Royal potatoes! Someone told me that they’re not quite as good as they used to be because of a new farming mechanism that means they can’t use seaweed anymore. I can’t honestly compare how they used to taste but I can tell that they tasted amazingly fresh in Jersey. Like the island’s other wonderful product, cream, the potatoes just aren’t quite the same on the mainland.
Dessert split the opinion of our table. We ordered something called apple pie and what came was clearly more of a French-style tart with caramelised apples and a flaky pastry base. Now to me, this was a happy-making development as I love fruit tarts and I thought this one was splendid. However, the Geek Goddess wanted a pie, goddamnit, and she experienced one of those existential sadnesses produced when you set your heart on a particular food object and it fails to appear. I understand this pain since I once ended up sobbing in a bathroom when a planned cheesy Italian polenta night turned into sushi. It might seem excessive but the belly wants what the belly wants. Nonetheless, I think she’d be the first to admit this wasn’t a reflection on the quality of the tart, though it might say something about menu clarity.
Finally, an adorable set of truffles appeared with coffee, including an amazing coconut one and something with orange and chocolate. We might have been slightly drunk at this point as my memory is on the hazy side. All told, it was a fantastic meal, partly because of the very high quality food but just as much as a result of the staff who created the sense of a fine dining welcome while keeping a casual atmosphere. And from my perspective, it set the tone for a culinary holiday dedicated to stuffing as much high-quality seafood into my gaping maw as possible…