Clumsy provider detracts from wonderful seafood

by Hungryginie

Octopus, Havelet Bay, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1AX (01481 722 400). Starters and snacks £three-£nine; mains £10-£49 (for sharing); desserts £five-£nine; wines from £19

Heading into Guernsey’s St Peter Port from the airport, down lanes edged through well-tended stucco, I interrogate my cab driving force approximately local eating places. I do this, now not because cab drivers recognize everything, however, due to the fact they do realize the conventional understanding. Octopus, he told me, serves some notable food, but the carrier can be a nightmare. A spherical of applause, then, for traditional information, nailing it there. Octopus has an awful lot to endorse it, however, it’s also an amiable shambles. Apparently, it’s much less of a shambles than it became whilst it first opened in 2016. Still, in case you are prone to the worry of being forgotten or not noted, or of going for long stretches without being fed, this can not be the location for you.

Even so, it’s nonetheless really worth the hazard, because it’s almost the restaurant you need on a sea-licked island like this. The wooden-clad building occupies a high spot in the shadow of a forested hill on the south cease of Havelet Bay, in town’s area. The view from the outside deck and the glass-fronted eating-room in the back of are across the water to the citadel and numerous outcrops and islands. This stylish logo of rugged modernism stands in contrast to the Bijou, antique international-vibe of their different eating place, Le Petit Bistro, back inside the center, which has a menu heavy with more French classics than you could shake a garlic-butter-smeared, snail-stuffed baguette at.

Octopus is named after the beast at the heart of sometime Guernsey resident Victor Hugo’s story Toilers of the Sea, and the menu is certainly a many-legged creature. Or to put it any other manner, it’s absolutely nuts. Alongside a listing of steaks, some other of road meals, a third of mussels (5 one-of-a-kind ways, in three one-of-a-kind sizes), salads, flatbreads, sauces and extra than a dozen facets, there’s also a gaggle of ramen. There’s no motive why the best humans of Guernsey shouldn’t have access to ramen, however, it does make the kitchen seem very eager to thrill.

Look, here’s the specials menu: three plats du jour at £13 each, the main path, a whole turbot to share for £65, and 3 nibbles. We get any such: scallop “beards”, the frilly skirts cut away while the meat is liberated from the shell, floured and deep-fried to golden and served with a bowl of punchy rouille. They have the savory-sweet edge of high-quality seafood and are satisfyingly chewy. We start with them, but I can see how they would also paintings as the ideal bar snack if, say, you had investigated the promise of their 50-sturdy gin list.

We also get a sausage roll, and the best porky component it’s far too, in a pastry shell as glazed as an antique piece of wooden fixtures. But the key to the menu right here lies within the middle, where there’s a list entitled Crab Shack, supplying oysters, whole crabs, lobster and numerous fish of the day served in ways many and diverse. From this, we get 3 rock oysters straight up, keenly priced at £1.70 every, and 3 more grilled under a burnished champagne sabayon with spinach and seaweed, which is all cream and acidity and surf and hurrah.

It’s a first-rate manner to begin and it needs to be, as it takes 50 mins from sitting down for any of this to land at the desk. Waiters ought to be flagged down like racing taxis as they try to skim, wild-eyed, beyond us. Generally, if we get the eye of 1, they tell us they need to discover every other. There’s also a few shameless upselling. While ordering starters I’m asked randomly if we’d like to add some scallops to that. What? To a large sausage roll, six oysters and a group of curly deep-fried seafoodie bits? No, now not sure, thank you.

It takes place once more with the second vital phase in the middle of the menu headed Hot Seafood Pot Specialities: a stew of mussels, prawns, scallops and infant octopus. You pick which broth you need it in – marinière with new potatoes and parsley, say, or green Thai curry – and then decide whether or not to add an entire crab, half or entire lobster or a mixture of the 2. We pick out the highly spiced bouillabaisse jus with fennel and chorizo with each complete crab and lobster to a percentage, for what, at £forty nine, is a good price. The waiter asks us if we’d like a larger lobster. I ask him how plenty. Instead of answering he returns with a tea towel-blanketed tray and pulls it back to expose first-class, blue-gray creatures, claws twitching. He factors to the bigger one. Again, I must ask him how a great deal. He mutters “£sixty five.” I decline, as it really isn’t that a lot bigger.

It’s additionally unnecessary. The actual shame approximately all this rackety, chaotic, from time to time clumsy service is that it detracts from what is an actually wonderful mess of seafood. It’s a massive dish to stand up on your armpits in. They say it’s for one or two, but it can effortlessly feed three. There is an ocean-deep broth that is not anything like both a bouillabaisse or a jus, however, is spiced and ripe with tomato and chili and the liquor the nice shellfish gives up as it meets its end. We pull the meat from the lobster and crab, our shells heaping up inside the bucket before us. We dig around for scallops and prawns and suck the debris off the mussel shells. It’s absolutely engrossing, an unmarried dish which for some is well worth now not handiest its own charge, but additionally that of a flight. We drink a reasonably priced Gavi di Gavi at £26 and work our way thru the napkins and the wet wipes.

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