Do you know what the latest buzz word in the world of marketing is? Hand-picked. There?s something so gloriously elitist about getting the best of the bunch ? every detail carefully crafted and selected just for you. It?s why we love bespoke, Sky Plus and MyWardrobe.com. It?s about attention to detail, and if you step into the Oyster Box and you?ll get a master class.
Bright and airy with sweeping bay views through the picture windows, sophisticated wicker Lloyd Loom chairs from Morton & Morton and a super-efficient team of photogenic serving staff ? the restaurant wouldn?t look out of place on Australia?s Gold Coast or overlooking the beach in LA. Everything about the Oyster Box has been carefully hand-picked and honed to perfection; nothing has been left to chance.
The same keen eye for detail has focused on making sure the Oyster Box is ethical. Fish is sourced from sustainable stocks ? and most of it is caught locally. The menu tells you where the food you?re eating comes from, so you?ll see references to mushrooms from Trinity, Jersey cheddar, even the fishermen are given a name-check. Jamie would love it. And ok, it?s not cheap. But you?re getting line-caught fish instead of trawled, scallops that a Jersey diver has picked for you ? by hand – from the sea bed, and vegetables from local growers that have spent the summer in a field up the road, instead of in a crate making a journey from Africa to your plate. If we want to eat responsibly, we can?t expect to pay Primark prices for Prada-style food.
And the food is pretty special. Head chef Roger White has been moved in from the Castle Green, and brings his uncomplicated, fresh style to the stunning best-of-Jersey dishes on the Oyster Box?s menu. There?s plenty of choice whether you?re light lunching or out for a swish dinner. And if you?re indecisive, like my lunch date Jon, you can go for the appetizer plate ? a whole selection of tastes from the starter menu. It changes regularly, and Jon?s came with the mini sesame burger which was mushroomy and delicious, a crispy coconut king prawn, a sweet and crabby shot of gazpacho and a surprisingly good vegetable risotto cake. I tried the sushi and sashimi which is just immaculate ? four seaweed and sesame wrapped prawn and salmon rolls, two slices of tuna sashimi and plenty of wasabi and ginger. Delicious. And you just can?t leave the starter menu without trying the oysters. They come with all the trimmings; rock salt, lots of lemon and a dish of shallot vinegar. Jon thought they were stunning – and so they should be after being organically grown in Grouville waters, lazily filter-feeding without a care in the world? until they landed up on his plate. And if you don?t fancy eating your oysters alive alive-oh, the Oyster Box serves them sizzling hot with garlic butter and chorizo or grilled with gruyère cheese.
The wine list is a good mix of young fresh discoveries and old favourites, with a wide selection of ?by the glass? wines ? thoughtful as most of us don?t live within strolling-home distance of the Oyster Box. My Louis Latour Mâcon-Lugny was chilled and crisp ? all honey and lemon flavours and perfect with seafood .
Our main courses were just as good. I?d gone for the dressed Jersey crab which arrives beautifully heaped up on the plate, with a house salad, a pot of mayonnaise and a bowl of cute little Jersey Royals. Even going for the smaller portion (most dishes offer a ?less? or ?more? option), there was still plenty of food, and the local crab was delicious ? so fresh it tasted sweet. Jon had the mixed seafood grill with sweet potato mash and red curry sauce. Rather like a deconstructed Thai Fisherman?s pie, the selection of fish varies according to availability ? the day we were there it was salmon, plaice, scallops, prawns and an amazing sea bass, soft and buttery with a flavour all of its own.
There?s something quite wonderful about eating fresh fish while looking out on the sea it was caught in. But make sure you leave room for dessert. Jon and I shared the gorgeous tiramisu with espresso icecream. Milky-soft and heavenly it took me straight back to family holidays in Sorrento. Seeing me scoffing most of it, our waitress brought over an extra serving of espresso icecream and dark chocolate buttons ? just for Jon. Maybe it was the twinkle in his eye that did it. Or maybe the oysters really had worked?..