I must admit, having a one-star Michelin Restaurant to ourselves might be seen by some as a little self-indulgent but what the heck. You only live once, and I intend to live it to the full.
Ok, I’ve been a tad creative with the self indulgent bit. Due to some other commitments, I had to make my dinner at Bohemia very early, so it is no wonder we are on our own for the greater part of the meal.
Bohemia has been on Jersey’s gastronomic map for years and I remember coming here in 2011 to interview Sean Rankin about the restaurant, the challenges of having a Michelin star and the Jersey food scene in general. It was a memorable meal and I have fond memories of Rankin’s enthusiasm with Jersey as a quality food source. After all, nowhere on Jersey is more than 15 minutes away from the sea or farmland. Even France is a mere 14 miles away.
Today, another culinary wizard is at Bohemia’s helm. Steve Smith, no stranger to Michelin stars himself, has been here since 2013 and throughout that time has kept Bohemia’s one star shining brightly together with a clutch of other awards including 5 AA rosettes, the highest AA ranking possible.
Smith has four main menus on offer; the Tasting Menu, a Pescatarian Tasting Menu, and a Vegetarian Tasting Menu which are all eight courses. A ten course Prestige Menu is also offered while an extra cheese course can be added to each at a supplement.
Faced with such a treasure trove of choices we decide to share two between us; the classic Tasting Menu and the Vegetarian.
Two amuse bouches swiftly appear. A very tasty smoked pork and a mackerel horseradish and cucumber. The sack still freshly-baked warm bread, with a choice of butter. I can’t help feeling a little special having the entire waiting team at our disposal and it seems the table duties have been split between them all.
First courses are the same for both menus; Tomato and Filipino Kalamansi. Citrus flavours abound here. An excellent dish to kick off proceedings. Honours shared.
An astoundingly fresh morel cream is next up on the Vegetarian Menu with pea, lemon and spring herbs. While over on the Tasting menu an Oyster Cassonade with cucumber and caviar is delivered with aplomb. After much debate, the Tasting Menu wins this round.
We’re warming to our task now, with the added bonus of a beautifully crisp glass of Chenin Blanc Voiuvrez 2016 (£11) and a Malborough Pinot Noir (£9).
By now some more diners have joined us and been shown to a couple of tables. I’m feeling slightly put out having to share our army of waiters, but the service remains undaunted and steadfastly loyal despite the added distractions.
Another pair of dishes emerges from the kitchen. Duck salad in foie gras cream, sea buckthorn, kumquat and pistachio. A veritable soup bowl, almost a foam. My heritage carrots with sea vegetables and sea buckthorn look startlingly pretty standing out in the centre of a grey and white plate.
We both agree the spread of individual flavours on both dishes is quite remarkable. Honours shared again.
I hear a gasp as an adjoining table tastes the smoked pork amuse bouche.
Cevennes onion with chanterelles, wild garlic and parsley are up next for me on the vegetarian. Little tartlets of onion filled with earthy chanterelles. I adore the strips of wild garlic. It is such a delight to look forward to this herb for a couple of months each year. John Dory with Cevennes onion, smoked eel, mustard and rock samphire is on the Tasting Menu. A beautiful looking dish but for us, the fish is a little too strong. The vegetarian menu is the winner here.
The main courses are up next, and we switch menus. I take the belted Galloway sirloin with white asparagus and black garlic with a side of oxtail on toast. The vegetarian option is a Jerusalem artichoke with black garlic, goats cheese and sunflower seeds. The beef is full of flavour but a little too chewy for my taste, but there is no doubting the artichoke and goats cheese. Another winner for the Vegetarian menu.
We’re on the home stretch now and Smith’s version of a kir royale from the Tasting Menu is joined on the table with French gariguette strawberry over Fromage blanc with olive oil. Although I adore olive oil and strawberries, the clever re-engineering of the kir royale wins this round. Another win for the Tasting Menu.
Our last course and with everything all square, it’s down to a pear and almond dish from Guanaja on the Vegetarian Menu against a spicy apple and blackberry on the Tasting Menu. The pear and almond is hands down amazing, a clear winner for me, but the artistry of the apple and blackberry is better, so another shared course.
With nothing between the two menus, it’s clear Bohemia has the culinary talent to satisfy both palates. This is extraordinarily good food delivered with seamless professionalism.
Still, it was good to have the place to ourselves even if it was short lived.
All food images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Bohemia Bar & Restaurant
Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, Green Street, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, JE2 4UH Tel: 01534 880588
The Tasting Menu, Pescatarian Tasting Menu and Vegetarian Tasting Menu cost £79 for 8 courses, while the Prestige Menu is priced at £89 for 10 courses (11 courses if guests add an additional cheese course). A Classic Menu is available Monday to Thursday for £49 for lunch and £65 for dinner, as well as a 6 course Surprise Evening Tasting Menu for £49.00. The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday, Noon until 2.30pm for lunch, and 6.30pm until 11 pm for dinner.