From the supremely tasteful rooms to the outstanding Michelin starred food in Mark Jordan’s Ocean restaurant, the Atlantic is a luxurious base for a weekend on Jersey
Review by Rupert Watkins
Arriving in darkness after a somewhat delayed flight onto the island (Jersey fog), the Atlantic instantly embraced my guest and I in a much-needed, calming cocoon. The hotel has a slight colonial feel to the reception and lounge area with exposed wooden floors, slightly low ceilings, white shutters and a tasteful mix of deep, comfortable sofas and dark wood furniture. Colourful, modern art by Jersey-based artists such as Naomi Renouf and Martin Bullivant adorns the walls. Swiftly checked in, we were shown to our sea view room and our bags bought up for us.
The rooms follow a very tasteful, rather minimalist bent. Our room was ample for our needs with a comfortable chaise long, decent firm bed and the colonial feel continued with the light wood, white walls, ceiling fan and local art. The bathroom was luxurious, with a deep marble-topped bath and powerful shower, although the Atlantic is currently in the process of upgrading them. Small but important details were all accounted for including slippers, robes and Molton Brown toiletries. The half bottle of Taittinger awaiting us provided an elegant and thoughtful touch, as well as some much needed rehydration.
Following a quick freshen up, we descended to the bar to indulge in a quick pre-dinner snifter. The bar is small and intimate, decorated with antique prints. Bare floorboards and dark furniture offer a restrained, understated and comfortable ambience. Those seeking huge bars and vast arrays of spirits should not look to the Atlantic. The bar is carefully, and considerately, stocked, while the bartenders are excellent. Whilst my guest enjoyed a gin and tonic, my Negroni was swiftly and precisely mixed and was just right. Over these thirst-quenching drinks, we perused Ocean Restaurant’s menu.
Mark Jordan’s Ocean Restaurant has had a Michelin star for the past decade. Having been lucky enough to sample Mark’s work at a pop-up he did a couple of years ago in Knightsbridge, I knew we were in for a decadent treat. The dining room is very clean and simple, white with shuttered windows running the length of the room. Unfortunately, they were shut as it was dark by the time we dined, but perhaps leaving them open and softly lighting the grounds would open up the dining room in winter. There is a rather Art Deco feel to the restaurant with mirrors used for decoration and to intelligently add perspective.
Taking our seats, delicious home-baked bread was served and we were treated to our first amuse-bouche, a beautifully airy butternut squash mouse. Light on the tongue, the earthiness of the squash still came through strongly. We had both opted for the table d’hote menu. My guest decided on the Jersey chancre crab salad with pink ruby grapefruit, lemon gel and Jersey crab tapioca. The crab was fresh, the grapefruit offering a light zing but never overpowering the delicate crab. I opted for the pressing of confit chicken and foie gras with pickled baby vegetables. This earthy dish was a delight, as the richness of the foie gras and depth of the chicken were offset by the slight tartness of the pickled vegetables.
We had both plumped for the honey and five spice roasted breast of Gressingham duck with salt backed celeriac purée and blackberry jus. The duck was beautifully cooked, still slightly pink but falling apart when touched. Very lean for duck, the gamey flavour was nicely undercut by the tart blackberry purée, which offered a lovely light counterpoint to the meat. Both the meat and celeriac had been gently pan fried in brown sugar, adding a slight sweet crunch. A lightly poached baby pear offset the heartiness of the meat nicely giving the overall dish a fresh edge. Served with red cabbage, which if being hyper critical had had a trifle too much brown sugar added to it for my taste, this was a supremely well-constructed and served course that will linger in the memory.
Accompanying our meal, we opted for a “Les Moriers” Fleurie which proved to be light, easy drinking across our various courses. As one would expect, those looking to find something special to accompany Mark’s food are well looked after. From a good selection of 1e Cru and Grand Cru wines to more esoteric offerings such as a Rkatsiteli from Georgia, there is perhaps a slight Old World bias to the wine menu but there are some mouth-watering examples of the wine makers art.
With the courses being immaculately judged in size, we moved onto desert eagerly. I turned to the cheese tray: Stilton, Brie and Cheddar accompanying fig chutney and oatcakes. To those who might expect from such an establishment a more obscure array of cheese, one can only say that getting the simple ones perfect is an art in itself. All were well matured, the Brie on the verge of overrunning the rest of the plate, the Stilton rich, soft and tangy and the Cheddar exactly how it should be, beautifully nutty and crumbly. Fresh fig chutney and home-made oatcakes completed a truly lovely meal. Coffee and home-made, rich, truffly petit fours rounded off the evening before the effects of the fog-induced 12 hour wait at Gatwick caught up with us both.
Rising to a cloudless, sunny day the following morning, the full beauty of the sea view room became apparent as the sun streamed in and we were able to look out across the dunes and beaches of the west of the island. Keen for a spot of invigorating exercise before breakfast we headed down to the Atlantic’s Palm Club for a quick swim. The small swimming pool is just the right size for an early morning dip and for those energetic enough, 30 brisk lengths will leave the heart pumping and the appetite keen. There a small Jacuzzi to unknot tired muscles, as well as a compact gym with a selection of cardio machines, weight machines and kettle bells.
Descending to the Ocean restaurant for breakfast, the room certainly was far airier with the shutters up and the morning sun streaming in. A comprehensive buffet included fresh fruit salads, cereals, cheeses, smoked salmon and pastries. Tea and coffee were ordered and the coffee – a perennial bugbear of my guest when travelling – was judged to be good. Whilst the full Jersey breakfast looked inviting, we decided to go off piste with my guest alighting on the Glamorgan sausage with smoked Caerphilly cheese, potato, herbs and creamed leeks. Comfortably rich, the tang of the cheese and leeks in this vegetarian dish made for a different and delicious start to the day. I went for the American-style pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. The pancakes were light and fluffy and the bacon crisp, so this was heartily wolfed down.
Throughout our two night stay, the levels of service at the Atlantic barely wavered – careful, precise and very friendly but never over the top. The establishment is a member, and Jersey representative, of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collective of over 500 of the world’s smaller, more discreet and unusual luxury establishments. Whilst not a cheap option on the island, for those seeking complete respite from the world and a truly decadent break just a quick 45-minute flight away from London, the Atlantic should be your first port of call on Jersey.