There is a sense among some Islanders that if you’re not going to go out to a restaurant now, you may never go again. We are in the final phase of exiting lockdown, the number of known cases of Covid-19 in Jersey is thankfully low, and … we are all about to get £100 to spend.
If the aim of the government gift is to get Islanders out spending money in Jersey to support the local economy, there is a sense that we should spend the money on something other than necessities.
Of course, we could all just use the cash for groceries or petrol, school shoes for the kids, or unblocking the drains. However, after several months of lockdown, when most of us haven’t been out as much as we normally would, it seems a shame not to spend the money on something fun, that you can enjoy and remember, which will help an Island business.
Enforced leisure or pleasure? It’s game on.
Jersey has so many brilliant places to eat, the hardest part is going to be deciding where to go for your treat meal. One contender for our vouchers will no doubt be Mark Jordan at the Beach.
Since opening in Beaumont in 2011, Mark Jordan’s casual gourmet restaurant has become a favourite for many Islanders. There’s good parking, and it’s on a busy bus route. You can walk from town or St Aubin’s along the sea front. The food is invariably delicious, and the service is usually top notch too.
We scored an alfresco table and headed out post-lockdown to see if it was still as good as we remembered.
The first thing to note was the new menu – not new as in new dishes, but new, as in one sheet of paper with everything available – seven starters and seven main courses – listed. The Terrace menu applies for lunch and dinner, which means goodbye cheeky ‘prix-fixed’ lunches and mid-week suppers.
Starters include classics such as chilled gazpacho, scotch egg and piccalilli, duck terrine with figs, and mackerel escabeche, with potato salad.
The mains continue the bistro vibe. Lobster Thermidor sits alongside thyme and garlic rib eye, roasted duck breast next to rump of lamb. It is a challenging menu for vegetarians and pointless for vegans.
As it was a warm day, fish seemed like the best option to complement a bottle of rosé. Some of the party plumped for the pan-fried salmon, a perfectly cooked fillet with crispy skin, sitting on a circle of crushed Jersey Royals and wilted spinach. A few asparagus spears and a waterfall of chive béarnaise topped the stack, creating a beautiful looking plate, that needed expert waitering to arrive at the table still standing.
There is always the danger with high stacked food, these multi-story car park meals, that something will happen between kitchen and customer. Herbs could fly off the mountain top, vegetables could plunge into the sauce, and if the foundations melt, the whole pile could come sliding together, creating an artistic mess, a bit like Tracy Emin’s famous bed.
And then, who is to blame? The chef for his creation, or the waiter for not being able to pilot a dangerous craft?
The cod was more modestly parked (it clearly still used scratch cards rather than flashy apps) on top of crushed potatoes and spinach, but the mussels were already in the Thai-style broth, swimming in the chilli heated moat, a crunchy coconut rice cake offering a drawbridge to the edge of the bowl.
Desserts are a bit of a thing at MJ @ the Beach. There’s always some sort of soufflé, this time hot raspberry with raspberry ripple ice cream. The sort of dish you need to earmark space for early on, potentially skipping a starter in anticipation of what’s to come.
For those who didn’t book a large enough parking space for a proper pudding, there’s always ice cream or sorbets. Homemade, of course. I never quite get the point of a restaurant having ice creams that people can buy in the supermarket, unless they are purely an accompaniment to another, more exciting dish.
Home-made ice cream is a different proposition. You know you’re getting proper ingredients and proper flavours. The mango and passionfruit hit the spot perfectly, offering the right balance of sweetness and tartness, a refreshing finale for a delicious meal.
- Alfresco terrace
- Fabulous cuisine
- Local produce
- Casual fine dining
- Brilliant service
Written by Private Table