Zara gets down with the St Aubin set at the locals? favourite, Cheffins?
What is it about all my friends? If they?re not going on some South Beach diet or another, then they?re obsessing about body fat percentages and signing up for yet more spinning classes. There?s nothing like the threat of a recession to send everyone spiraling into self-denial.
All this healthy eating is playing havoc with my social life. Suddenly nobody wants to come out to lunch with me anymore unless there?s mung beans on the menu. Thankfully, Nadia, my gym bunny friend had a suggestion. ?Cheffins ? great food, great atmosphere ? and plenty of sunshine?.
Cheffins has been open only for the last 18 months or so, and in that time it?s built up an incredibly loyal following, with its legendary Sunday lunch menu booked solid every weekend. Perfectly-cooked local food, generous portions and friendly service ? it?s a combination that would work well even if Cheffins didn?t have a gorgeous courtyard location in the heart of St Aubin. During the day, it?s light, cool and airy thanks to the large canopy, and during the evening, it?s atmospheric and lively, with color-changing lights and a fun clientele – perfect for sizzling summer suppers.
There?s a new à la carte menu full of local food that sounded delicious, and as Nadia and I couldn?t make up our minds which starter we wanted, Peter the charming Swedish manager brought us a whole platter of tapas-style tastes from the starter menu. We loved the griddled calamari with lime, ginger, sugar and chilli ? it?s a real Cheffins classic ? tender but tasty all at the same time. Also on our plate were delicious discs of spicy grilled Spanish chorizo, fresh anchovies, olives, and tiger prawns soused in garlic butter. And to mop up all the juices ? bread with a homemade tomato and olive dip.
After catching up with all the spinning-class gossip, and some Swedish jokes from Peter, we started on our main courses. Nadia had gone for the Moroccan-spiced lamb kebab which came with tzatziki, a rustic salad, home-made houmous and still-warm-from-the-oven flat bread. Forget those hazily-remembered ?on the way home from the Splash? kebabs ? this was two skewers of marinated spiced lamb, chargrilled to perfection and served on a bed of crisp lettuce. She loved it ? ?spicy and so tasty, but still healthy? ? it?s a definite favourite for next time. I?d let Peter talk me into the restaurant?s famous Fisherman?s Pie ? he told me I wouldn?t be disappointed ? and I wasn?t. Full of cod, smoked haddock, peas, scallops and king prawns and topped with creamy mashed potato and sunblush tomatoes, and served on a huge plate – this is a pie fit for one very hungry fisherman. It?s absolutely delicious, full of buttery, creamy, moreish flavours ? certainly one to reward yourself with after a stint at the gym. If you have space, there?s a dish of lightly steamed local vegetables on the side.
You certainly won?t go away from Cheffins hungry ? they serve generous portions, and at £13.60 each, our main courses weren?t overpriced. And if you want to snap yourself up a real bargain, go for the lunch menu which includes two courses for an incredibly-reasonable £8.99. We didn?t have room for desserts, although I?ve heard they?re great ? and spent the rest of our lazy lunch chilling out in the flower-filled courtyard, swapping stories and sipping coffee.
Cheffins has got the St Aubin?s vibe down to a tee ? relaxed, friendly, serving good local food in a beautiful setting. With its large seating areas and spot-on service, it?s perfect for parties ? and picturesque enough for a romantic supper a deux in the courtyard. What?s the catch? Only that I don?t live close enough to wander in for supper every weekend?.