The locals are proud of what they can grow, rear and catch. Restaurants, pubs and cafes advertise fresh Jersey produce, and market stalls carry signs boasting of ‘genuine’ island food, drink and crafts.
Steve Smith, the Michelin star head chef at Bohemia restaurant in St Helier, clearly shares that pride. His dishes make full use of the island’s treasures, bringing all the flavour out of ingredients while dazzling the eye.
The restaurant, which is tied to The Club Hotel & Spa, invites diners inside with a mix of trendy decor and a relaxed atmosphere. The menu features à la carte, eight course ‘tasting’ or 10 course ‘prestige’ options.
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Among the highlights were, as you might expect in St Helier, the oyster with cucumber, caviar and yuzu, which took the mollusc out of its shell and into a beautiful arrangement that was only improved by the addition of a creamy sauce.
The two ‘mains’ – turbot with onion and smoked eel, and pigeon breast, smoked leg and parfait on toast – were both excellent, using basic ingredients imaginatively. But the best was saved until last. A new dish that week, the spiced apple mousse with various blackberry creations was surprising, delicious and stunning to look at.
Bohemia also offers an afternoon tea, for those who fancy a feast after a relaxing treatment in the hotel spa. A decent selection of sandwiches is really just a distraction from the skills of head pastry chef Ellen de Jager. The showstopper in terms of taste was probably the mango yacht creation, but the raspberry tart with an adorable chocolate fish nestled on top won best in show for presentation.
Fantastic food is not all Jersey has to offer. The island state also has a rich history that, thanks in particular to St Helier’s museums, is easily accessible and colourfully told.
The Jersey Museum & Art Gallery shows how islanders have endured and often fought off centuries of attempted invasion and occupation. Exhibits are visual and varied, steering clear of the text-heavy trap in favour of artefacts, audio and video. And the attached ‘Merchant’s House’ captures a crisis point in the life of an indebted Jersey family trying to sell their possessions and flee to France. This glimpse back in time sets the museum apart.
Also in St Helier, the displays at the Maritime Museum give children and adults plenty to prod and poke while showing why Jersey has always been so dependent on the sea. The museum also holds the Occupation Tapestry, stitched by thousands of residents to celebrate the island’s liberation from the Nazis.
A weekend isn’t enough to properly experience Jersey. It’s an outdoor activity hub, offering everything from surfing to casual strolls. There’s a year-round programme of events and each season brings something different. Even a week-long stay would only scratch the surface.
But St Helier, and in particular The Club Hotel & Spa, are a great place to start your island visit.
The Club Hotel & Spa, St Helier:
- Deluxe double or twin room from £165 per night;
- Afternoon tea, spa treatment and swim £79 per person
Bohemia restaurant, St Helier
- Classic dinner menu £65 per person:
- Eight-course tasting menu £79 per person (£15 supplement for cheese course).
What to do:
Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, Merchant’s House
- Adults £9.95, children £5.50, family (two adults two children) £27.90.
Jersey Maritime Museum
- Adults £9.80, children ££6.15, family (two adults two children) £28.70.
- Jersey Heritage Pass, through Visit Jersey - grants unlimited access to four sites for the price of three for a seven-day period
- Adults £32.45, children £20.95, family £93.95.
How to get there:
Direct flights (prices from http://www.skyscanner.net, flying April 2018)
- London (all airports) from £49;
- Southampton from £80;
- Doncaster Sheffield Airport from £104;
- Birmingham from £121;
- Manchester from £220.