Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review

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Zara?s developed a rather alarming taste for cocktails recently ? from Bellini?s to B52?s, she?s sipped and slurped her way through most of Jersey?s cocktail menus.  So when we heard there was a new cocktail bar and restaurant in town, we couldn?t resist sending her along to try it out. Hic!

The summer season has started.  No, not the charity balls and garden parties ? I mean the season of those Monday morning texts saying your friends are popping over for the weekend.  And don?t you just hate it when they know more about your island than you do?  Thanks to the incredibly knowledgeable concierge at her hotel, Annabel already had a list of places she wanted to visit, and first stop was Signature. ?We can catch up over cocktails, darling ? Ivan says we must try the Mahiki ? it?s lethal??

In case you hadn?t noticed, the old City on Halkett Place is no more.  It?s been nipped and tucked into a swish new restaurant ? Signature.  The tv screens and computers are all gone, and in their place, a novel new dining concept ? the clue?s in the name.  Signature serves signature cocktails from the best cocktail bars, and signature dishes from four top celebrity chefs.   It?s a winning idea ? especially when you take a look at the cocktail list.  From the delicious blackberry and vanilla Crumble cocktail, as served at the Below Zero vodka bar to Hakkasan?s Pink Mojito and the Wild Hibiscus Royale champagne cocktail from the Dorchester, someone had fun putting their dream cocktail wish list together.  It?s almost as much fun to drink your way through it ? especially in one of the two circular booth-style tables where you can gossip in peace with around a dozen of your friends.  The cocktails are reasonably priced, and when you calculate how much you?ll have saved by not flying out to Trader Vic?s, you?ll be able to buy everyone another round.

Annabel and I had a cocktail each ? and Ivan was right, the Mahiki cocktail from Will and Harry?s favourite bar WAS lethal ? before deciding we ought to try supper in the glamorous new restaurant.  The menu features signature dishes from four top chefs, Gordon Ramsay, Bill Grainger, Rick Stein and Jean-Christophe Novelli, as well as the restaurant?s own ?signature? dishes, and plenty of old City favourites.

Our table was at the front of the restaurant with the windows folded back, so we got the full alfresco experience without actually having to balance on the pavement.  The restaurant?s looking very chic since its redesign.  It?s got all the style of fine dining ? linen napkins, gorgeous tableware and a charmingly attentive French Maître d? ? but none of the stuffiness.  Philippe, the Maître d? imported straight from Cannes, brought us a glass of wine each ? the fresh and fruity Pinot Grigio Porta Italica, and a plate of breads with sun-dried tomato butter while we decided what to order. And here?s the fun bit.  Taking a look at Signature?s menu is rather like reading through a couple of delicious cookbooks, safe in the knowledge that you won?t have to do any chopping or stirring?  It?s celebrity chef cuisine without having to go anywhere near an actual cuisine.

All the celebrity chefs chosen for Signature?s menu are passionate about seafood and fresh flavours ? making them ideal to showcase Jersey?s local produce.  I started with a recipe from Gordon Ramsay – crab spring rolls which came with a pot of sweet chilli and coriander dipping sauce.  It was delicious, the crispy spring rolls were bulging with crab, and the dipping sauce was perfectly spicy.  Annabel had the sautéed squid salad from a recipe by Rick Stein, a delicious mix of squid, chorizo, garlic, tomatoes and chickpeas.  This is a great dish, full of real Spanish flavours and tastes as if it?s come straight from a Barcelona street market.

For our main courses, we both went for intriguing-sounding dishes.  With my sweet tooth, I couldn?t resist the seabass with vanilla butter vinaigrette from Rick Stein.  Although it sounds like an odd pairing, don?t be put off ? the result is deliciously decadent with the vanilla bringing out the creamy sweetness of the seabass.   Annabel?s ham and cheese pork cappuccio as cooked by Jean-Christophe Novelli wasn?t quite as exotic as it sounded –  the capuccio turned out to be a breaded pork chop with ham and cheese.  It was a tasty and filling choice though, and it came with a dish of delicious buttered Jersey royals.  Too full to fight over the dessert selection, Annabel and I shared the Crema Catalana, a Spanish-style crème brûlée flavoured with orange and cinnamon from Rick Stein.  We both loved it ? a perfect summer dessert choice.

Our verdict on Signature?  It was a reasonably-priced supper with excellent service and attention to detail which made you feel as if you were eating somewhere very special.  If you want to give Signature a go, try the Taster menu which runs from 6pm till 7pm every evening.  All the celebrity chef signature dishes are on the menu and two courses are only £9.95.  It?s an incredible bargain ? and if you?re making it a post-work supper, you could probably fit in a cocktail at the bar first? just watch those Mahikis!

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