oh la la

oh la la

Do you know how much effort goes into organising a wedding? Well I do… thanks to my ?teetering-on-the-edge-of-Bridezilla? friend Jemima. With her wedding only six weeks away, we?d spent the morning sorting out flowers, organising the wedding favours and we were just dithering over confetti colours (rose pink or dusky blush?) when I suddenly flipped. Call it low blood sugar, call it a tantrum ? I just knew I needed food and I needed it now. Thank goodness for La Bastille. After the recent revamp, it?s lost the dungeon effect and turned into a much cosier, more muted and contemporary place, with the sort of calm feeling you need if you?re a stressed-out bride to be.

Frank, the Bastille?s manager seems to know everyone, and he probably does. The Bastille?s been going for 30 years and it?s acquired the sort of loyal clientele base any restaurant would be proud of. Head Chef Eddy Cottini is Jersey?s answer to Jean-Christophe Novelli with his French accent, training at Michelin-starred restaurants and passionate approach to food. His menu is drawn from all his favourite influences ? Provençal cooking, Italian cuisine and Moroccan flavours, and with a career that spans catering for ravenous skiers at mountain restaurants, right through to serving the finest dining to Zurich glitterati, he should know what he?s talking about. Just don?t get him started on fusion… ?all ?zose tastes ? too many ? my food you ?ave only one or two flavours, but ?zey are done well?. Eddy?s philosophy is that food should be simple and people should know what they?re going to get. The menu at La Bastille is certainly pared down ? there?s a choice of four starters and four main courses on the Winter Warmers menu (£12.50 for two courses, £15 for three) but there?s a blackboard on every table with the specials of the day, which all sounded gorgeous. I stuck to the Winter Warmers menu, while Jemima (come on, she coordinates her confetti ? what did you expect?) ordered from the specials menu.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous when Jemima ordered her king prawn tempura ? she?s fussy about her seafood and after a long morning wedding shopping, the last thing I needed was a fraught bride to be getting het up over not-quite-perfect prawns. Thankfully, the batter was light and crispy, the king prawns were just right and the tomato sauce on the side was delicious ? just a hint of chilli without being scorchingly hot. Eddy suggested we try the salmon roulade. It looked like it was going to be very rich, with all that smoked salmon and creamy potato salad, but it was lighter than it looked, and the potato salad was just delicious.

The wine list is aimed at people who know their stuff ? and it?s good. We counted a rather nice Puligny-Montrachet, Selaks and even Cristal for anyone feeling a bit bling, but whatever you?re into, you won?t go far wrong; the prices are reasonable and everything?s been well chosen.

When it came to the main course, Jemima couldn?t wait to try an intriguing dish which combined monkfish and vermicelli with coconut sauce. It?s hard to describe ? think of a couple of monkfish ?Snowballs? with toasted vermicelli instead of desiccated coconut, and served with a lightly spiced laksa-style sauce. Delicious, but slightly surreal. It certainly got some admiring glances from diners across the room… who then ordered the same. My black bream came steamed in its own banana leaf parcel, tightly secured by a length of banana leaf in a knot even a top Scout would have struggled with. Thankfully, Eddy noticed my feeble fumbling and came to my rescue with a sharp knife. Good thing too, because the bream was excellent ? steamed with a subtle coriander flavour. Seeing a design fault, the kitchen sent out the rest of their bream unwrapped, with the banana leaf pinned into a sail shape with a cocktail stick. ?Innovative and imaginative? said Jemima enviously, cursing the fact she?d already booked the caterers for her wedding.

We didn?t have room for dessert, but I hope you do. The passion fruit pannacotta just sounds so delicious, and it even comes with a mini fruit cake. There was apple crumble as well as a sticky toffee pudding on the menu for the more traditional. We finished with a peppermint tea, brought to our table with a saucer on top of the cup (it keeps the oils in and improves the flavour), which impressed Jemima.

I?m starting to realise why La Bastille has so many regulars. The food is excellent, the wine is reasonable and the attention to detail is second to none. I don?t think people should be allowed to keep it to themselves anymore. At the moment, it?s only serving lunch, so my advice is to book yourself a long lunch break ? or better still, call in sick or cancel your afternoon golf and take someone out to La Bastille. With the Winter Warmers menu running until the 29th March, you?ve really got no excuse.

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