Have you been to Jersey lately? Why not? It’s the sunniest place in the British Isles. You can leave your City office at 6pm and make an 8pm dinner reservation (I flew from London City with Blue Islands, which provides you with free drinks and won’t shout at you about the size of your carry-on luggage). And the food scene over there is well worth checking out, which is pretty remarkable considering it has a population of less than 100,000. But then this is an island with a speed limit of 40mph where every second car is a Porsche, a place where the super-wealthy come for favourable tax rates as well as a hearty tan.
The weather, though, isn’t guaranteed. I visited the weekend of the annual boat show and it rained incessantly. Thankfully, Jersey’s most famous tourist attraction, the War Tunnels, is underground. Dug by Hitler’s army during the occupation (the Channel Islands are the only place in the British isles the Nazis ever set foot), these kilometres-long tunnels are a fascinating place to spend an afternoon, especially if you have kids in tow. But I was really only here for one reason: to eat. Here’s how to plan the ultimate foodie trip to Jersey.
Longueville Manor is the ideal base for your foodie trip. Located on the south east end of the island, it’s a beautiful stately home set in 16 acres of lawn, woodland and a kitchen garden complete with smokery.
The food, put together by the talented Andrew Baird and served in a low, wood-panelled 15th century dining room, is excellent. The seafood-heavy tasting menu includes a tower of beguilingly sweet local crab with watermelon; poached lobster in a rich, foamy broth, topped with roe and a tiny flower; buttery sea bass with fat tiger prawns and fennel salad. It tastes as good as it sounds – all simple, distinct flavours.
There was beautifully pink best-end of lamb with a rich heap of braised shoulder, which was as wholesome as you dare to wish for half-way through an eight course meal. Goat’s cheese fondant with caramelised red onion passed in a blur but the piña colada with macadamia crumble and glazed pineapple was exceptional – three individual globes of dessert, each exquisitely crafted. By the apple terrine I was struggling. The petit fours I wrapped in a napkin for later and found stuck to the inside of my jeans the next morning.
And there are few better places to wake up than the Tower Suite at Longueville Manor: a comfortable, modern bedroom with a huge entertaining room opening onto the manicured lawns and outdoor pool, where I ate oysters during a brief window of sunshine. Make sure you try the house-smoked salmon for breakfast. Longueville also has a brand new yacht available to charter for up to eight guests – call for more information.
Longueville Rd, St.Saviour, JE2 7WF, 01534 725501, longuevillemanor.com
Ormer is probably the best known restaurant on Jersey thanks to its head chef Shaun Rankin, who you might have seen at work on The Great British Menu (his treacle tart won the dessert category in the fourth season). The restaurant is split into a brasserie-style bar and a swish 50-cover dining room (on sunny days they open the terrace, which I’m assured is stunning).
There is, of course, a tasting menu with matched wine; the only choice after a day drinking champagne in the pouring rain. The free-flowing booze and course after course of excellent, largely local cuisine left me with hazy but entirely pleasant memories – a glass of intense, floral gewurztraminer here and an orange marmalade with salt caramel there.
There were cubes of tuna with avocado puree and cucumber sorbet; a gigantic scallop with lime-marinated carrot; a crisp tomato and feta salad. All excellent. There was a phenomenal pancetta-wrapped rabbit loin with morel mushrooms and a pea and truffle sauce – wonderfully lean, perfectly cooked. Lamb with glazed sweetbreads and roast aubergine was rich and intense. There was passionfruit gateaux. I’m probably missing something.
It was a meal of unusual quality, laid back despite the formal surroundings. Apparently I thanked Shaun personally, but that’s one memory that’s entirely lost amid the evening’s swirling gastronomic mosaic. I’ll thank him next time – I hear his treacle tart alone is worth the trip.
7-11 Don St, St. Helier, JE2 4TQ, 01534 725100, ormerjersey.com
Sumas is as picturesque a restaurant as you’ll find anywhere in the world, with Mont Orgueil Castle rising imposingly from the sea a few hundred feet down the road. The food’s not bad, either.
The white-washed dining room has a beach-restaurant quality and much of the produce is brought in from the harbour you can see below you. I started with saddle of rabbit – I was still swooning over Shaun Rankin’s rabbit from the night before – and wasn’t disappointed; firm rolls of meat atop potato puree with a light onion gravy. El Pye had crispy pucks of polenta, with blue cheese and wilted vegetables, which I could have taken or left. I followed it up with monkfish, Jersey Royals (natch), corn fritters and beetroot, while El Pye had lobster claws with a prawn salad. It’s simpler fare than at either Longueville or Ormer, less painstakingly put together, but perfectly acceptable for whiling away the tail end of an afternoon after trekking around a picturesque castle.
Gorey Hill, JE3 6ET, 01534 853291, sumasrestaurant.com
- Fly with Blue Islands (www.blueislands.com) from £49 each way including free baggage, free ticket/name changes and seat selection. This price is based on flights from London City to Jersey, the airline also flies to the Island from Bristol and Southampton.
- A three night stay for two at Longueville Manor starts at £585 (based on a classic room, bed and breakfast, no offers have been taken into account)