Food doesn't come much tastier (or prettier)
I used to think meals in Michelin star restaurants were unnecessarily fussy, with far too much foam (why make foam out of perfectly good food?) and not enough, erm, food… Then I got addicted to Masterchef and gained an understanding of the amount of work that goes into creating, and plating, award-winning food – including tiny specks of blink-and-you-miss-it jelly that take three hours to set. I also learnt that, even though there are nine ingredients on my plate, each one has a purpose – something sweet to cut through the saltiness, or sharp to outweigh the syrup, etc.
So, with new-found respect for restaurants of a higher standing stuffed into my clutch bag, I headed to the beautiful Atlantic Hotel in St. Brelade, Jersey, for the meal of my life. Even if you aren’t staying at this hotel, a trip to its Michelin star restaurant, Ocean, is worth it for the views alone – unsurprisingly of the sea.
The décor has a smart, almost Caribbean vibe to it, with its ceiling fans and white-washed wooden shutters offering dappled views of the hotel’s immaculate grounds leading out to St Ouen’s Bay – twinkling in lights on my early evening visit.
Head Chef Mark Jordan waves his 1 Michelin-star/4 Rosette wand at several dining options, including light lunches, Sunday roasts and, come evening, three-course a la carte or seven course tasting menus. There’s even a nursery menu for children.
While pondering my three-course menu, I am offered a complementary pre-starter of tuna tartare with coriander which is light and tangy, and the perfect accompaniment to a glass of chilled Prosecco.
My starter of Jersey crab salad with pink grapefruit and crab ketchup is the prettiest dish I’ve eaten – and understandably gets more likes on Instagram than I have ever encountered (thank you Mark!).
I let the charming sommelier steer me away from a glass of Sav Blanc from New Zealand (my staple) to a drop from Tenerife (er) to complement my main course of pot roasted chicken breast with truffled polenta, morel mushrooms and Jersey asparagus. He chooses well – the wine is sweeter than my first choice, working well with the moist chicken; salty truffle stack; hearty mushrooms; and crunchy, slightly acidic asparagus.
All three desserts sound great, so I seek advice from my waiter and ask which would make a better picture (a question he would surely have balked at in the days before social media). Without blinking an eye – or stifling a giggle – he suggests the one simply called ‘tarrogan’, “The purple will really show up well against the snow,” he says, confusingly (I’m not totally up on my spices, but even I know that tarrogan isn’t purple). To go with this, the sommelier – now my right-hand man for plonk – recommends a sticky dessert wine, the country of origin I fail to write down as I’m too busy scoffing the beauty below.
The sweet, dusty tarrogan is offset beautifully by the warm, sharp blueberries; they themselves then dampened by the sour yoghurt. It’s delightful. I end my wonderful meal with a frothy cappuccino, noticing with each sip how busy (and buzzing) the restaurant has become since arriving at 7pm.
Don’t leave without taking a peak at the fish happily swimming under the tiny bridge between the reception area and the bedrooms on the way out. At £3,000 a pop, these carp won’t be making it into Ocean’s kitchen, but with so much fresh fish, cream, asparagus, potatoes and other local ingredients to play with, Mark Jordan can continue to create Michelin-star dishes while leaving them to enjoy their beautiful setting.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Couples, families or groups of friends, either local or holidaying in Jersey, celebrating a special occasion or simply enjoying an evening meal or Sunday lunch.
Not for: Diners after pub grub – this is fine dining with fine views
£££: Three course Sunday Lunch (£32.50), three-course a la carte menu (£55), seven course taster menu £85)
Le mont De La Pulente, St Brelade, Jersey, JE3 8HE. Tel: 01534 744101. theatlantichotel.com