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Bohemia

Green Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 4UH, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

Steve Smith is the head chef of Michelin-starred Bohemia in Jersey

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Bohemia is on the ground floor of The Club Hotel & Spa in St Helier on the island of  Jersey. Its head chef is now Steve Smith, who first earned a Michelin star at the age of 24 at Gordleton Mill in 1998. He was also head chef at Holbeck Ghyll, Seaham Hall and the Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire. He moved to Bohemia in 2012, taking over from Shaun Rankin. The restaurant itself has held a Michelin star since 2005. The ground floor 44 seat dining room has a tiled floor and smart, modern decor, with its columns and stainless steel rails slightly reminiscent of an ocean liner. The dining room adjoins the bar area, and a large team of a dozen chefs prepare the elaborate dishes. 

The format now is primarily based on tasting menus, though a set lunch was also available. We opted for the pescatorian menu (£75), though I swapped one course to try some meat as well. Nibbles were a pea velouté with ham and duck tart, barbecued pork with apple purée and oxalis (wood sorrel) and a dish of crab with crab bisque jelly. The barbecued pork was particularly good, with deep flavour nicely balanced by the acidity of the apple, and the pea velouté had plenty of flavour intensity; the crab was served in a little caviar tin, and was nice without quite having the fireworks of the other two nibbles (16/20 on average).

The wine list has nearly 250 choices, starting at £19.50. Example wines included Dr Loosen Eroica Riesling 2010 at £45 for a wine that can be found in a shop for around £17, Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc at £62 for a wine that retails at £16, and Argiano Solegno 2008 at £105 for a wine that will set you back £49 in a shop.  There were also prestige wines such as Leoville Las Cases 1990 at £500 for a wine that you can find for around £300 retail.

Bread was made for scratch and was excellent, a choice of white brown and caramelised onion rolls, the texture very good (16/20). Rocket granita with lemon and ginger jelly and a rocket and ginger foam was a less pleasing dish for me, the elements technically correct but I am not sure that the combination of flavours was especially coherent (14/20). Better was a velouté of haddock, leek and potato, poured over a slow-cooked egg, a piece of haddock and mustard ice cream.  This was an interesting dish, the combination of hot soup with cold ice cream not an obvious one, but the mustard flavour worked really well with the haddock (16/20).

Scallop tartare was a pretty dish, presented with fennel discs, tarragon purée, passion fruit jelly and caviar. The local scallops had good sweetness, the fennel also having good flavour, though I was not sure passion fruit was an optimal pairing here (15/20). Lobster with pea purée was served with pistachios and smoked butter foam. This was a very good dish, the local lobster tender and the pistachios adding a useful texture contrast (16/20).

Turbot was served with cauliflower cream, capers, pickled cauliflower, shrimps and oxalis leaves, on a bed of cauliflower couscous. The turbot was fresh and accurately cooked, the cauliflower had plenty of flavour, and the vinegar in the pickled cauliflower nicely balanced the cream (17/20).

Sea bass was also carefully timed, served with good asparagus and girolles (16/20). I had chicken with girolles, pea purée, sugar snap peas, mushroom purée and a Madeira sauce. The chicken, unlike so many served on restaurant tables in Britain, had good flavour, the sauce lifted the dish and the pea purée was also good; seasoning was very accurate, as it was throughout this meal (16/20).

Pre-dessert of vanilla cream mousse with oats, white raspberries and raspberry sorbet had excellent vanilla mousse, the sorbet having good flavour and the texture combination nice (15/20). The main dessert was "chocolate mayhem", a biscuit base with two different Valrhona chocolate layers covered in a third chocolate; this richness was nicely balanced by excellent lime sorbet, caramelised peanuts and a peanut crisp offering an extra texture (17/20). 

Lavazza coffee was served with petit fours including a delicate fig macaroon and a selection of chocolates. Service was extremely capable, topping up careful and the staff friendly and helpful. The bill came to £96 a head, the tasting menu at £75. This was an excellent meal, operating at a strong one Michelin star level. 

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