From artisan producers to the island's loveliest restaurants, we present a guide to dining on Guernsey.
31 Mar 2021
A cuisine that draws on home-grown produce, outstanding seafood and a unique blend of French and English influences, Guernsey’s gastronomy has much to inspire culinary adventurers. Its menus are blessed with daily fishing hauls and seasonal harvests from centuries-old farmsteads, as well as spectacular produce from small, independent entrepreneurs. The island’s illustrious The Duke of Richmond Hotel and The Old Government House Hotel & Spa are ideally placed in St Peter Port for a foodie foray into Guernsey’s charming tearooms, traditional chippies and an impressive flock of sophisticated restaurants. Comprising the Bailiwick’s most exceptional delicacies and chicest dining rooms, we present a comprehensive dining guide to the best places to eat in Guernsey.
Red Carnation Hotels
Foodies hankering for a taste of Guernsey’s rich cultural past will find ample to inspire. Discover enticing delicacies and regional specialities, available exclusively on the island and perfected by master epicureans over the ages. Take the island’s traditional bake, for example, also known as the humble gâche. Pronounced ‘gosh’ and translated as ‘cake’ in Guernésiais, this fruity bread is the island’s signature teatime snack. Chock-full of raisins, sultanas and candied orange peel, the tea loaf is best enjoyed layered with creamy Guernsey butter. It’s served throughout the day at many of Guernsey’s cute kiosks.
Another speciality unique to the island is the Guernsey bean jar. It’s a hearty cassoulet of ham hock and haricot beans, intended to warm diners during stormy weather. With multiple variations and closely guarded family recipes passed down through generations, it is said that no two bean jar recipes are the same.
The rare Golden Guernsey goat produces a famously creamy milk. It’s this that husband and wife team Mandy and Peter Girard use to make their incredibly smooth cheese roundels, which are served at the Red Carnation Hotels in Guernsey. “Golden Guernseys are a rare breed, with only 1,200 listed in the world. They’re also extremely friendly and laid-back, just like the Guernsey people. Golden Guernsey goats are very handsome, with a long, golden coat, and they produce beautifully creamy milk, which is excellent for cheese-making,” explains Mandy. “Our Golden Guernsey cheese is fresh and creamy with a subtle flavour, which makes it very versatile and means it can be used in desserts as well as savoury dishes. We make our cheese the old-fashioned way, without a machine. We begin with fresh, raw, full-cream milk that’s heated in a bain-marie. Cultures and vegetable rennet are added, and the mixture is left overnight. The milk then separates into curds and whey. The whey is drained off and the curd is pressed after adding salt or other ingredients like herbs.” In spring, visitors can arrange to go and meet the Girards’ special goats, where bottle-feeding the kid goats is a particularly popular activity.
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Speaking of local producers, Mandy also sings the praises of the island’s Smithfield Farm Guernsey Luxury Yoghurt: “They only started making their yoghurts in 2018 and they are truly passionate about what they are doing, as well as promoting the delicious Guernsey cows’ milk.” Smithfield Farm is one of Guernsey’s many independent dairy farmers and cheese-makers, with new artisanal products continually being introduced to the mix. Guernsey is famed for its pale, fawn-coloured cattle and their rich milk. Many believe that Guernsey cows yield the most delicious milk in the world. Not only does it taste divine, but Guernsey milk’s health properties are also widely known—it contains three times as much as Omega-3 and 12 per cent more protein than regular milk. Pop into the beautiful Moulin Huet Tea Rooms, one of the loveliest places to eat ice cream in Guernsey. Enjoy a cone of classic flavours, made with rich Guernsey cream, while overlooking the bay that inspired Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s paintings.
Roaming foodies are spoiled for choice when it comes to quality local produce. Years before artisanal food was à la mode, the island was preparing its own. Its top gastronomes have been practising and reinventing their trade for centuries. From lobster and crab sandwiches to beer-battered halibut and sea bream suppers, feast on fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, netted moments before it’s plated. Islanders dive for scallops, throw out a line for bass, monkfish and turbot, and reel in lobster and crab year-round. Indigenous to the island, the abalone is a meaty mollusc that’s harvested only on full and new moons between January and April. Islanders scour rock pools at low tide to prise off the precious ormers and add them to pork casseroles—the customary method of cooking the catch. Find this seasonal delicacy on the menus at many of St Peter Port’s restaurants.
Across the island’s green, rolling pastures, organic fruit and vegetables thrive, particularly summer classics such as tomatoes, artichokes and asparagus. During the warmer months, hedgerows and fields burst to life with plump, juicy berries, too. When exploring Guernsey’s winding country lanes on a leisurely bike ride or laid-back stroll, keep an eye out for the farmers’ honesty boxes placed beside homegrown fruit and vegetables—don’t miss the opportunity to sample their succulent harvest.
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Food isn’t the only gustatory focus on Guernsey. Cider and beer are brewed here, too. Sip a fine lager from the Bailiwick’s cherished Randall of Guernsey brewery, which has been bottling since 1868. Rocquette’s highly regarded cider is poured in restaurants and bars across the island., including The Duke of Richmond Hotel and The Old Government House Hotel. Moreover, Wheadon’s Gin is a distinctive artisan sprit that’s distilled by passionate Guernsey local Luke Wheadon. He spoke to us about the inspiration for his one-of-a-kind product. “Before starting Wheadon’s Gin, I had worked as a chef, so I have always been infatuated with flavour. I bought a tiny copper still as I wanted to create a really local, expressive gin. I do a lot of foraging, so I wanted to include foraged ingredients. I experimented with berries, elderflower and even seaweed. Eventually I found a plant called rock samphire, which grows just above the water line, and when I tasted it, I knew its citrus minerality would help create the gin I wanted to make. Paired with other botanicals such as pink grapefruit, I believe the minerality of the rock samphire lends the gin its moreish element—it makes you want to go back for another sip!” We also asked Luke about the local food and drink producers he admires. “Lots and lots! We have such amazing artisan producers in Guernsey—there are really too many to mention. As a small example, I’d say people like Fenella, who is making amazing cheeses at Fort Grey, as well as a local lady on the island who grows all the citrus fruits for my gin—she really is a hero! I also admire Rocquette Cider, who are currently producing their own apple brandy. Guernsey is such a creative and entrepreneurial place.”
Red Carnation Hotels
The island’s exceptional natural larder supplies a vibrant spread of upmarket seafood restaurants and creative kitchens, helmed by masters in the field. It’s no secret that Guernsey’s culinary scene has seriously upped its game in recent years, and diners can now experience everything from aromatic curries to modern twists on Continental favourites. For authentic Indian cuisine in smart, relaxed surrounds, The Curry Room at The Old Government House Hotel & Spa is just the spot to mark a special occasion. Pictures and memorabilia of the island's former governors adorn the walls, while the menu has been specially designed by Mrs Tollman and Kevin Joseph, our Executive Head Chef at The Oyster Box in South Africa. Meanwhile, the hotel’s picturesque Brasserie Restaurant dishes up its famous Guernsey lobster roll with sweeping views of St Peter Port harbour.
Red Carnation Hotels
A truly elegant rendezvous, The Crown Club provides an inspired spectrum of drinks experiences. Wine tastings include rare Italian vintages and signature reserves from Red Carnation Hotels’ very own Bouchard Finlayson vineyard, while Champagne and gin tastings present some of the world’s best bottles. For delectable Guernsey dishes, infused with locally sourced ingredients, The Duke of Richmond’s Leopard Bar & Restaurant is one of the most stylish places to eat in Guernsey. Watch the chefs in action in the open-plan kitchen, plating up locally netted seafood and steaks cooked to perfection, exquisite starters and indulgent desserts. Look out for the catch of the day alongside the Head Chef’s most popular recommendations on the daily specials board. Elsewhere, hand-rolled sushi and locally caught fish awaits at Guernsey’s greatest restaurants for seafood lovers. Perched on the seafront of St Peter Port, as its name suggests, The Hook rustles up a colourful spread of sushi and seafood. Order the grilled Guernsey lobster, a lasagne of scallops or wakame salad with local crab—the menu is chic, as is the clientele. Nearby, Pier 17 sates appetites with its generous seafood platters, heaped with lobster, picked crab, king prawns and smoked salmon.
Red Carnation Hotels
A handful of progressive culinary celebrations have quickly established themselves as highlights of the Guernsey calendar year. In September, the Guernsey International Food Festival invites gastronomes from all corners of the globe to join in gourmet walking tours, workshops and tastings to sample an impressive portion of the island’s bounty. Come October, Tennerfest treats foodies to six weeks of superb fixed-priced meals and set menus. Visitors can eat the best Guernsey cuisine at participating places.
Every week, Fresh Friday Guernsey arrives at St Peter Port’s Market Square, bringing together talented local producers and epicureans. Look for hot-from-the-oven breads and organically grown fruit and vegetables, as well as delicious regional cheeses, chutneys, preserves and jams. Wander between the local producers’ stalls piled-high with an impressive haul of freshly caught seafood and fish, along with meats from animals that have been ethically reared on the island. Pick up a bite to eat and take it down to the beach for a picnic. The only challenge is in deciding what to fill your hamper with…
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