Right, so I realise that is a really heavy quote to be prefacing a humble restaurant review with, but I promise you I have somewhere I’m going with this, so just bear with me, ok?
Ouaisne bay is a beautiful part of Jersey, a rock-edged amphitheatre of a beach with fantastic views of St Brelade’s bay and those really posh houses out towards Beauport, you know the ones. Although the beach is smaller than its more popular neighbour, it has always had the advantage of being less populated on summer days, free parking and direct access to my favourite pub in Jersey – The Smugglers Inn.
But there is something other than real ale and a parking space to entice you down the windy hill to Ouaisne bay, and that is Kismet Cabana. Half food truck and half ice-cream stall, this wooden structure sits at the top of the gravel carpark and commands views of the rugged, rocky surrounds that embrace this section of Jersey’s south coast. There is even an extremely ‘instagramable’ sign post showing the distances to Portlet, St Brelade as well as Sri Lanka & Morocco. This is a great little nod to the chef’s passion for world cuisine and gives you a small inkling into what you have coming…
This beach kiosk pulls no punches, the simplicity of its appearance leaves you unprepared for the culinary celebration you will experience when you order something other than a Cornetto and a bottle of water.
I arrived at Kismet Cabana on a Tuesday lunchtime with a colleague. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and if it wasn’t for a bit of wind, it could be described as a rather nice Spring afternoon. We sat at our table and were met with a menu that is substantially different to any other beach kiosk I have been to. Whilst there were still the staples; the bacon roll, the bacon-sausage roll, the bacon-sausage-egg roll…I could continue… There were also Jamaican & South African dishes. These street food options are such a great idea for fast/on your feet food. You no longer have to settle for a half-melted ice cream, or a stick of rock, to satisfy those shoreline hunger pangs.
Finally, you can try something different, you can have a new food experience, and about time I say. Sure, it would also have worked in town. I have no problem believing that when 1pm rolls around each weekday the queue would be out the door, (if they had one) but combining the twin disciplines of interesting food & sandy toes; this, my friend, is a work of genius.
The chef, Chris Lister, can be heard from my seat, excitedly discussing the menu with customers. His enthusiasm for this food is infectious and what I ordered was entirely based on what I could overhear him talking about; the bobotie. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say this is a curry spiced mince beef dish with a cooked egg topping and is served with a crusty hollowed out roll and mango chutney. It’s a strange dish to find on a beach in Jersey but really fits the ethos of Kismet Cabana. The mince was soft and really flavourful, spicy without being hot and the egg was fluffy and really complimented the overall flavour. My colleague opted for the Jerk chicken burger. After hearing her say that this was ‘the moistest chicken burger’ she had ever had, I felt compelled to cut off a section to try. She was absolutely right. The chicken was to die for. The jerk spices work so well with the crispy salad that accompanies the burger and, again, it is just brilliant to be able to enjoy in this setting.
After eating, I made a point of telling Chris just how much I had enjoyed what we ordered. He is a real personality and just adds to the delight of the whole experience. You don’t often get an opportunity to chat to the person making your food unless you opt for the chef’s table at Bohemia, and even then, it’s more of a visual experience than a personal one. Chris explained to me that after being head chef at El Tico for 5 years he decided to brave it alone for more independence. After viewing several properties in St Helier and its surrounding areas, Ouaisne was the last one he had been shown and he just knew it was perfect. He named it ‘Kismet Cabana‘ because the word Kismet derives from the Arabic for Fate/Destiny. I told you I was going somewhere with the introduction quote, albeit long-winded and perhaps convoluted.
I think that this restaurant/beach café/kiosk, whatever you want to call it, is exactly the thing that was missing from the sea-sides of Jersey. An outgoing and passionate chef, a beautiful location and an interesting and diverse menu creates an overall superb dining experience. And now, with the addition of a full alcohol license you’d better be sure to make it your destiny to visit this awesome little place and enjoy it as much as I did!