Some say that Alderney is the “secret island” of the Channel. Well, tonight, I found the hidden treasure!
The Georgian House promised us an evening of delicious dining with a very local twist…but could we ever, on a sleepy (and rather foggy!) Wednesday night, expect anything so special!?
Stepping off charming Victoria Street into the cosy bar and restaurant, barman Ben stirred up Elderflower Fizz cocktails whilst accompanied by the bustle and excitement of local ukulele group, The Strummers, and a rip-roaring performance to entertain us. The bar and restaurant was filling up with real anticipation in the air and everyone hoping for a brilliant, somewhat impromptu, night!
That's the great thing about the Georgian. It can be informal, romantic, secretive, glamorous, casual, celebratory...they have a space and vibe to suit whatever mood you're in!
Superstar waitresses Marcie and Chelsea lead us upstairs into the Georgian's atmospheric, fairy-light-filled Orangery. Artwork and photography adorns every wall (including some beautiful new paintings by renowned artist Jenny Aitken).
We keenly awaited the specials board...which was, quite honestly, rather special.
Is it just me? I always end up looking at dessert first!
Lovely artwork to purchase in the Orangery by Jenny Aitken
We went through the menus like detectives (with three eyes!)...dissecting every item to determine which would be the most local/environmentally conscious - but everything sounded so fabulous, we had to call for back-up!
Manager Holly Chandler explained to us that 99% of the menu is sourced locally with no main ingredient from more than 2 miles away! The seafood - lobster, crab, oysters, turbot, bass - all caught today by island fishermen. Local Kiln Farm beef (and soon, for a short while, local veal) and the incredible Oxford Sandy and Black Alderney Free Range Pork. Vegetables grown locally on allotments by the amazing Pat & Francis Short...and delicious watercress from Longis Bay Garden Centre.
It was just too taxing for my 8pm brain...so I took another sip of my cocktail and ordered everything. Yes, that's right. Everything.
A bottle of house white and some delicious Alderney bread and butter arrived. The award winning loaves from the Alderney Hot Bread Shop matched with Kiln Farm Dairy's outrageously yellow butter was so moreish we were grateful that the starters came speedily!
So...here it is...starter(s)...we plumped for (clockwise from left) the Buttered Crab with Tempura Courgette Flowers & Bisque; Mackerel Rilette with Fennel & Blood Orange Salad; Alderney Ham Hock Crocquette, Apple & Soft Boiled Egg; and Lobster Cocktail with Avocado & Tempura Claw!
Ladies and gentlemen....there are only two words I have to say to you... BUTTERED CRAB.
And here's two more...OH YES!
We also discovered that there were some new summer staff in the kitchen alongside talented Head Chef, Kevin Honeywood. Acclaimed celebrity Chef, Adam Byatt, spent the last week on Alderney discovering food foraging and local flavours along with some members of his kitchen team. Adam's staff fell in love with Alderney so much they decided to stay for the next 10 weeks and work in the Georgian House kitchen whilst their AA Rosette award-winning Clapham restaurant, Trinity*, is under refurbishment. (*The Times' food critic, TV's Giles Coren, has written of Trinity "as close to an absolutely perfect experience of eating out as it is possible to have". Perhaps Mr Coren should take a trip to The Georgian House, too!)
Main course arrived in clean and simple style. Mr Channel Island Girl (he's not loving that new title!) plumped for Turbot whilst I had the amazing Salt & Chilli Squid with Asian-style vegetables and we shared a delicious and novel twist on salad with an Iceberg Lettuce Wedge (drizzled with homemade Salad Cream and a Chilli Crumb).
The delicate seafood main courses allowed the "dessert stomach" to awaken...although we were very reserved and decided to just have one dessert each...
Then there was the ultimate "King of Desserts", the showstopper, the piece de resistance, the Big D...
Chocolate and Salt Caramel Hot Pot with a huge dollop of Alderney's Kiln Farm Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream perfectly placed in the middle. I'm putting 100 of these on my Christmas List this year.
Gooey, chocolatey, salty, caramelly gorgeousness.
We took a little post-supper amble around the GH garden where everyone many were enjoying the Garden Bar and the latest cocktails! But we were completely done...seriously satisfyingly full up.
Do you know what? The Georgian House Team have totally got this. 100%. There's no doubt in my mind that tonight's meal, coupled with the delightful ambience and excellent staff have sealed the deal for me to keep coming back again and again (in fact, probably this weekend!).
The ethos is a perfect combination of: relaxed Alderney atmosphere + delicious drinks + utterly charming & attentive staff + consistently gentle-yet-exciting vibe along with a lovingly constructed menu that is hugely aware of its locality.
People know a good thing when they find it...and many voted with their feet tonight by walking through the front door. A busy Wednesday night for the GH Team and a huge boost to Alderney.
Other magical things on the local menu I would recommend at The Georgian House this summer...
But the Georgian House isn't just about the food! It recently gained the 4* Inn accolade with Quality in Tourism - the House's four stylish double rooms start from £75 prpn in Low Season.
Open year-round, the GH Team are also famed for their excellent outside catering, functions and weddings. From disused Victorian fortresses to garden parties under marquees - you can contact them for your event planning, accommodation needs and amazing dining experiences via the website www.georgianalderney.com, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01481 822471.
You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Learn more about getting to Alderney via www.visitalderney.com