Kate?s boules tournament may have been rained off, but every cloud has a silver lining ? or golden in this case ? as she makes a fabulous family restaurant find on St Brelade?s Bay.
Don?t you just love our great British summer? Record-breaking temperatures one day, then it pours the next. And sometimes ? when the weather?s in a particularly awkward mood ? you get everything all in one day? usually the day you?ve organized a beach party.
We were halfway through the annual Summers family beach boules tournament when we spotted the storm clouds rolling in over St Brelade?s Bay. Sweeping up the blankets, boules and Max and Lucy, we made a dash for the nearest shelter. And right at the top of the steps from the beach was the new entrance to the Golden Sands café bar, doors wide open. I couldn?t resist it – epecially as the kids were halfway inside already, leaving a trail of wet Crocs-sized footprints behind them.
I must admit that Golden Sands had faded into the St Brelade?s Blur ? what I call all those places you walk past on your way from Pizza Express to the Wayside, but never register. Go on, see how many you can name – there?s L?Horizon, Tam?s Bar, a Chinese takeaway, a beach shop, a café and ? the Golden Sands Hotel. The hotel?s recently had a makeover, turning it into the sort of 3-star you?d expect on Jersey?s most beautiful beach – contemporary in a classic sort of way, but still comfortable.
The Café Bar runs along the front of the hotel, with tables set up beside picture windows that slide open, so you get all the benefits of the sea air without having to get sand between your toes. As for the menu, well it?s nice and dependable, serving everything from brunchy-type breakfasts and sandwiches to steaks and sea bass, with a children?s menu offering mini versions of some of the main courses. The staff didn?t seem to notice the trail of sand we?d walked in ? and were incredibly friendly, full of recommendations for food and wine. We ordered steak with pepper sauce for frazzled Husband, the seared scallops for me and for Max and Lucy the fish goujons. We were expecting pretty standard fare ? after all we?d just dashed into the first place we found ? but our lunch turned out to be absolutely delicious. The steak was tasty and tender with a delicious creamy peppercorn sauce served on the side ? just what the Husband had asked for. The scallops were plump and juicy, and came on a long plate with spicy grilled chorizo and a piquant finely-chopped salsa. The flavours were fresh and clean and the whole dish was beautifully presented. There was even a bowl of buttery Jersey Royals on the side to soak up the spicy chorizo oil. And surprise, surprise, the childrens? fish goujons were homemade. No Captain Birds Eye for the Golden Sands chef, he?d used lovely portions of unseasoned fresh fish and a light ? almost beery ? batter to make the most delicious mini fish n? chips I?d ever tasted. I have to admit this was one time I was hoping the children wouldn?t finish their food? Thankfully the children?s portions were very generous ? leaving plenty of chip-stealing chances.
I shouldn?t have been surprised by the attention to detail ? the Golden Sands is part of the Dolan Hotel Group, which also includes Hotel Cristina and the gorgeous Somerville Hotel with its award-winning Tides restaurant. I found out later that the head chef at the Golden Sands, Chris, had learned his skills at the Somerville before moving on to create his own brasserie-style menu for the Golden Sands. It?s obvious he cares a lot about taste ? highly-spiced dishes like his Moroccan lamb tagine and smoked haddock and clam chowder sit alongside light and fresh fish dishes like the salmon with asparagus and the pan-fried sea bass.
The attention to detail continued into the dessert selection, with our Movenpick ice-creams arriving in black glass sundae dishes with fresh strawberries, berry coulis and homemade shortbread. They were absolutely delicious ? Husband and I even had a tussle over who got the last spoon of Mint Choc Chip.
It made me wonder why I?d always walked past the Golden Sands when the views were stunning and I could sit beside sliding windows with the sea air streaming in, enjoy great service and delicious food. I can?t wait to try the platter of calamari with a glass of sparkling Taltarni next time ? like the couple on the next table, hotel residents who couldn?t believe their luck at finding such a great hotel. So don?t let the tourists get all the best views ? make the most of this still relatively undiscovered corner of St Brelade?s, and try lunch at the Golden Sands for yourself.