St Helier, Jersey credit: Alan_Lagadu
Jersey, the largest of the Channel islands is an intriguing place with loads of quirks and surprises. Nuggets of joy include the gloriously windswept beaches, a hopelessly romantic lighthouse and some of the best food in the British Isles.
Its sandy coastline and long hours of sunshine make Jersey a great summer holiday destination but we decided to try it off peak, as a cheeky weekend getaway from London. You can get the ferry but we flew. As the plane landed on a rainy, windy late November afternoon, the light was drawing in and after dropping off our bags at the hotel we braved the elements to go in search of a cosy pint. Despite the proliferation of inviting looking establishments there was no room at any of the inns. The rain dripped off our sensible clothing as we wandered through the centre of the island’s capital St Helier but respite was at hand in the shape of Bean Around the World, an inviting-looking haven of a coffee shop. The dark, rich iced mocha, (yes iced in November because I’m contrary) and flat whites were as good as you’d get in London and we greedily eyed up the gorgeous and very reasonably priced baked goods on display. Our drinks absolutely trounced the coffee chain store dross tourists are often wont to suffer. Looking through the local food and drink guidebook, Appetite, we were delighted to find that there are several other coffee joints worth trying including the tiny Dandy in the centre of town. Who’d have thought it, Jersey a thriving third-wave coffee hub?
Filled with positive vibes and loads of caffeine, we joyfully splashed back to our accommodation. A few minutes walk from the centre of town, the Club Hotel and Spa is unshowy but quietly impressive. From the comfy rooms to the swimming pools and treatment rooms it’s a grown-up kind of a place. The main draw for us was the acclaimed restaurant Bohemia. In the dark days of November, food can make everything good again.
We chose Friday dinner time for our adventure in gluttony. I’d read up about Chef Steve Smith and the blow-out 12 course tasting menu beckoned. There are more modest offerings but you only live once and as soon as the little first chunk of beautifully done mackerel and a succulent cube of pork came, we knew we were on to a winner. A cavalcade of joy followed, incorporating but not limited to an Orkney scallop the size of a lady’s (mine) fist, a crab custard with mango and coriander, several divine puddings including a popcorn, caramel and lime concoction and to top it all off, chocolates from the mind of a real-life Willy Wonka. Profoundly full we lumbered back up to our comfy beds safe in the knowledge we’d signed up for afternoon tea the next day.