Jersey is just a hop, skip and a jump from London and offers a great location for business meetings and dinners, as Daniel Fountain discovers at Ocean at the Atlantic Hotel
When you are asked politely on arrival if you can wait before taking photographs to allow one of Jersey’s richest men to finish his lunch, it should give you some idea of the high esteem in which Ocean is held. Indeed, this Michelin-starred gastronomic delight has been making waves across the UK restaurant scene since it was recognised at the highest level back in 2007.
The subsequent result a decade later is down to the successful collaboration between two champions of Jersey; hotelier Patrick Burke who owns the adjoining Atlantic Hotel and head chef Mark Jordan. What they have created with this restaurant is nothing short of superb. My visit coincides with a review of the hotel, with which Ocean has formed a symbiotic relationship, and the two complement each other seamlessly.
“We wanted to create something unique that also showcases the very best this island has to offer,” owner and dining companion for the evening Patrick explains. “We’re very proud of what has been achieved,” his wife Treena adds. It’s hard to disagree with them as I take in my surroundings. Given its coastal locale and incredible views over St Ouen’s Bay and the vast Atlantic expanse beyond, the décor is markedly influenced by the oceanic setting. Stark blues are set against subtle creams and whites, while American shutter windows and ornate pillars give the space an almost colonial feel.
The main dining room allows for an elegant but convivial atmosphere; it doesn’t have the air of pretentiousness that other destinations in the Michelin guide can sometimes have. Another added bonus is the ability to book the private dining room – perfect for client entertaining or impressing up to 12 guests – which allows for more privacy and seclusion.
After starting with an aperitif in the modestly-sized bar, we are shown to our ocean-view table by restaurant manager and exceptional maître’d Martinho de Sousa, whose team are professional to a tee but never overbearing. Small touches like Jersey butter served on a beach pebble and amuse-bouches such as a shot of gazpacho set the tone for what is to come.
One of the things that Mark Jordan has prided himself on since first arriving at Ocean in 2004 is his use of Jersey produce and working closely with local suppliers. So it seems almost rude not to indulge in some of his island influenced culinary creations.
To start, I opt for a taste of the sea with the local Jersey shellfish in an oyster mayonnaise accompanied by sea herbs and a tomato consommé (pictured above). It’s a wonderful showcase of one of the delicacies this Bailiwick is famous for. The other, of course, is Jersey beef from the famous breed found on the island; and I plump for an assiette, which comes with a lobster ravioli, a deconstructed Dauphinoise in the form of a cappuccino and a beef marmite reduction. My dessert of chocolate gelée – a decadent blend of dark cocoa, Gianduja and praline ice cream – is preceded by a raspberry sorbet palate cleanser.
All dishes, as expected, are served with the flair, precision and craftsmanship befitting of Mark Jordan’s ever-increasing reputation and each course is paired with a carefully-chosen wine from head sommelier Richard Burton’s extensive selection; in this case a Burgundy chardonnay, a South African cabernet sauvignon and a Sauternais sweet wine. Despite the artistry and elegance of the dishes, portions are not undersized and don’t leave room for much more, but a cheese selection is available as part of the more extensive taster menu.
With the benefit of a small, luxury hotel attached and Jersey only a 55-minute flight from London, this really is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway at a venue with a difference. Simply put, Ocean is fantastic and justifiably a destination within itself and certainly won’t disappoint. But be sure to book yourself a table – this little slice of Jersey has built quite the reputation.
The Atlantic Hotel & Ocean Restaurant; Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade, Jersey JE3 8HE, Channel Islands; 01534 744101; theatlantichotel.com/dining/ocean-restaurant