Octopus, Havelet Bay, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1AX (01481 722 400). Starters and snacks £3-£9; mains £10-£forty nine (for sharing); cakes £five-£9; wines from £19Heading into Guernsey’s St Peter Port from the airport, down lanes, edged through nicely-tended stucco, I interrogate my cab motive force about neighborhood eating places. I try this now not because cab drivers understand everything; however, due to the fact they do recognize the traditional awareness. Octopus, he instructed me, serves a few super meals; however, the provider can be a nightmare. A round of applause, then, for conventional knowledge, nailing it there. Octopus has an awful lot to suggest it. However, it’s also an amiable shambles. Apparently, it’s much less of a shambles than it was when it first opened in 2016. Still, if you are susceptible to the fear of being forgotten or unnoticed or going for long stretches without being fed, this could not be the area for you.
Even so, it’s nonetheless really worth the hazard because it’s nearly the restaurant you need on a sea-licked island like this. The wooden-clad construction occupies a high spot inside the shadow of a forested hill on the south cease of Havelet Bay, on the town’s aspect. The view from the outside deck and the glass-fronted dining-room behind is throughout the water to the citadel and various outcrops and islands. This stylish brand of rugged modernism stands in assessment to the Bijou, antique international-vibe in their different eating place, Le Petit Bistro, lower back in the center, which has a menu heavy with more French classics than you may shake a garlic-butter-smeared, snail-filled baguette at.
Octopus is known as after the beast on the heart of someday Guernsey resident Victor Hugo’s tale Toilers of the Sea, and the menu is certainly a many-legged creature. Or, to put it any other way, it’s completely nuts. Alongside a list of steaks, another of avenue meals, a 3rd of mussels (5 special methods, three one-of-a-kind sizes), salads, flatbreads, sauces, and extra than a dozen aspects, there’s also a bunch of ramens. Of course, there’s no motive why the good humans of Guernsey shouldn’t have to get entry to ramen. However, it does make the kitchen appear very keen to please.
Look, here’s the specials menu: 3 plats du jour at £13 every, a primary route, an entire turbot to share for £ sixty-five, and 3 nibbles. Finally, we get one of these: scallop “beards,” the flowery skirts reduce away whilst the meat is liberated from the shell, floured and deep-fried to golden, and served with a bowl of punchy rouille. They have the savory-sweet edge of first-class seafood and are satisfyingly chewy. We start with them, but I can see how they could also work as the best bar snack if you had investigated the promise in their 50-strong gin list.
We also get a sausage roll and a great porky factor it is too, in a pastry shell as glazed as a vintage piece of timber furniture. But the key to the menu here lies within the center, where there’s a list entitled Crab Shack, supplying oysters, entire crabs, lobster, and diverse fish of the day served in methods many and diverse. From this, we get three rock oysters instantly up, keenly priced at £1.70 each, and three extra grilled under a burnished champagne sabayon with spinach and seaweed, which is all cream and acidity and surf and hurrah.
It’s an extraordinary manner to begin, and it needs to be, as it takes 50 mins from sitting down for any of this to land on the table. Waiters must be flagged down like racing taxis as they try to skim, wild-eyed, beyond us. Generally, if we get the eye of 1, they tell us they want to discover every other. There’s additionally some shameless upselling. While ordering starters, I’m asked randomly if we’d like to add some scallops to that. What? To a large sausage roll, six oysters, and a group of curly deep-fried seafoodie bits? No, no longer honestly, thank you.
It happens once more with the second critical phase within the center of the menu headed Hot Seafood Pot Specialities: a stew of mussels, prawns, scallops, and baby octopus. You pick which broth you need it in – marinière with new potatoes and parsley, say, or green Thai curry – and then decide whether to feature a whole crab, half or entire lobster, or an aggregate of the two. We pick the spicy bouillabaisse jus with fennel and chorizo with each entire crab and lobster to a percentage, for what, at £49, is a right fee. The waiter asks us if we’d like a larger lobster. I ask him how tons. Instead of answering, he returns with a tea towel-protected tray and pulls it again to show exceptional blue-grey creatures, claws twitching. He factors to the larger one. Again, I have to ask him how much. He mutters, “£65.” I decline because it clearly isn’t that a lot larger.
It’s additionally unnecessary. The real shame approximately all this rackety, chaotic, once in a while clumsy service is that it detracts from what’s a certainly glorious mess of seafood. It’s a big dish to arise in your armpits. They say it’s for one or, but it can effortlessly feed three. There is an ocean-deep broth that is nothing like both a bouillabaisse or a jus but is spiced and ripe with tomato and chili, and the liquor the exceptional shellfish gives up as it meets it to give up. We pull the meat from the lobster and crab, our shells heaping up in the bucket before us. We dig around for scallops and prawns and suck the debris off the mussel shells. It’s absolutely engrossing, an unmarried dish which for a few is worth not best its own charge, however additionally that of a flight. We drink a fairly priced Gavi di Gavi at £26 and work our way thru the napkins and the wet wipes.