“n fact, I'm itching to go back. Lord Sugar, you are not fired.”
Review by Fiona Duncan, published 16th December 2010.
Those of you who watch The Apprentice will have a televisual notion of where I've been this week, for I followed in the footsteps of contestants Joanna Riley, Jamie Lester and Chris Bates to see what I made of their reward. For those who didn't watch, Lord Sugar gave his three finalists a special treat: he lent them his Learjet and sent them to Jersey for lunch.
I didn't get the private jet, it's true, but in other respects I did rather better than Joanna, Jamie and Chris. I didn't have to go home and get told off by Lord Sugar, for a start. In fact I didn't go home. What they ate at lunch, my husband and I consumed at dinner, and then we stayed the night.
Times may have been tough for the Atlantic's owner, Patrick Burke, but he's refused to drop standards or slash prices.
In fact, after major refurbishments, he has created a visually stunning place to stay out of an unforgiving Sixties building first opened by his parents 40 years ago. Sixties architecture begone! The Atlantic, with fine sea views, now speaks more of Art Deco and ocean liners, with glamorous, all-white reception rooms that are deeply stylish, yet timeless.
As for the staff, you would be pleased, Lord Sugar. With their dedicated, beautifully mannered service, they provide the traditional element in a hotel that succeeds in staying fresh, but refuses to follow fashion.
Which can also be said for the cooking of Michelin-starred chef Mark Jordan. He and top-flight sommelier Sergio dos Santos devised a seven-course tasting menu especially for the Apprentices, with matching wines, which was not just the biggest treat that they could conjure, but also displays Mark's honest, fad-free style and his insistence on produce only of the highest quality, as well as Sergio's encyclopedic knowledge of the grape. And now you can eat it, too, because post-episode it's being offered to all at an reasonable (considering the ingredients) £70 for seven courses, or £120 with accompanying wines.
It includes the best oysters, lobster and beef (from Mark's own, specially fed herd) I have ever tasted, plus caviar, truffle and melt-in-the-mouth foie gras. It was truly memorable. Even now I can recall the precise taste of the lobster "surprise" and the assiette of Jersey beef.
And the Grüner Veltliner that went with the poached oyster and the Ramos Pinto tawny port that went with the local cheeses.
In fact, I'm itching to go back and eat it all again. Lord Sugar, you are not fired.
St Brelade (01534 744102; www.theatlantichotel.com). Doubles from £150, including breakfast. Two-night gourmet break £360 per person. Access possible for guests with disabilities. Further information from Jersey Tourism (www.jersey.com) and Luxury Jersey (www.luxuryjersey.com).
If you're a foodie – or even if you're not – you must investigate Jersey's wonderful produce. This corner of the island produces the best seaweed-fed potatoes (look out for roadside stalls with honesty boxes) and the best lobsters and crabs. Don't miss a visit to Sean Falkner (www.faulknerfisheries.co.uk) in his brightly painted wartime bunker at L'Etacq, brilliantly converted into a fish shop and a series of tanks of constantly refreshed seawater for his massive lobsters and crabs: a delight. And don't miss Jersey oysters, on sale at the Fish Market in St Helier or at the Oyster Box (along with other fish and shellfish) on St Brelade's Bay.
You can also buy fresh produce at the recently restored Victorian Central Market in St Helier as well as sample traditional island delicacies such as Jersey Wonders (small cakes), cabbage loaf (bread wrapped in cabbage leaves), Bean-Jar (made from pigs' trotters) and Black Butter (an apple preserve). If you prefer to sit down rather than graze, there are lots of cafés, pubs, wine bars and restaurants to choose from.
The parish of St Brelade offers some breathtaking scenery, including a nature reserve and sand dunes at Les Blanches Banques. Download a walk, starting and finishing at the parish Hall in St Aubin, fromwww.jersey.com.
The Hotel Guru verdict
Luxurious, but surprisingly small
Outstanding; great chef and sommelier
A beautiful hotel; needs an injection of Apprentice-aged guests
|Food and drink|
Superb: committed, honest, unfussy, knowledgeable
|Value for money|
Rooms small for their high season price (£300); Tasting Menu great value