Heading into Guernsey’s St Peter Port from the airport, down lanes edged via properly-tended stucco, I interrogate my cab driving force approximately nearby restaurants. I try this not because cab drivers recognize the entirety but because they do realize the conventional expertise. Octopus, he advised me, serves some top-notch meals; however, the service can be a nightmare. A spherical of applause, then, for traditional wisdom, nailing it there. Octopus has a lousy lot to advocate it, but it’s additionally an amiable shambles. Apparently, it’s less of a shambles than it was whilst it first opened in 2016. Still, if you are at risk of the fear of being forgotten or omitted or of going for long stretches without being fed, this may no longer be the vicinity for you.
Even so, it’s nonetheless worth the risk, as 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 stop of Havelet Bay, on the town’s aspect. The outside deck’s view and the glass-fronted dining room behind are across the water to the fortress and various outcrops and islands. This classy brand of rugged modernism stands in comparison to the bijou, antique global-vibe of their other restaurant, Le Petit Bistro, again in the center, which has a menu heavy with extra French classics than you may shake a garlic-butter-smeared, snail-crammed baguette at.
Octopus is named after the beast on the coronary heart of Guernsey resident Victor Hugo’s story Toilers of the Sea, and the menu is indeed a many-legged creature. Or, to put it any other manner, it’s completely nuts. Alongside a listing of steaks, another of street meals, a 3rd of mussels (five one of a kind methods, in 3 specific sizes), salads, flatbreads, sauces, and more than a dozen facets, there’s also a group of ramen. There’s no purpose why the best people of Guernsey shouldn’t have access to ramen. However, it does make the kitchen seem very keen to delight.
Look, here’s the specials menu: 3 plats du jour at £thirteen each, a chief path, a whole turbot to share for £ sixty-five, and three nibbles. We get this type of scallop “beards”; the elaborate skirts cut away while 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 the pleasant seafood and are satisfyingly chewy. We start with them, but I can see how they would like additional paintings as the perfect bar snack if, say, you had investigated the promise of their 50-robust gin listing.
We also get a sausage roll and a great porky component, it’s far too, in a pastry shell as glazed as a vintage piece of wood furnishings. But the key to the menu here lies within the middle, wherein there’s a list entitled Crab Shack, presenting oysters, complete crabs, lobster, and numerous fish of the day served in approaches many and numerous. From this, we get 3 rock oysters immediately up, keenly priced at £1.70 each, and 3 extra grilled below a burnished champagne sabayon with spinach and seaweed, that is all cream and acidity and surf and hurrah.
It’s a superb way to begin, and it needs to be because it takes 50 mins from sitting down for any of this to land on the table. Waiters have to be flagged down like racing taxis as they try and skim, wild-eyed, past us. Generally, if we get the attention of 1, they inform us they need to discover every other. There’s also a few shameless upselling. While ordering starters, I’m requested randomly if we’d like to feature some scallops to that. What? To a massive sausage roll, six oysters, and a group of curly deep-fried seafoodie bits? No, now not absolutely, thank you.
It occurs once more with the second vital section in the center of the menu headed Hot Seafood Pot Specialities: a stew of mussels, prawns, scallops, and child octopus. You select which broth you want it in – marinière with new potatoes and parsley, say, or green Thai curry – and then decide whether to add an entire crab, 1/2 or complete lobster, or a combination of the two. We pick the highly spiced bouillabaisse jus with fennel and chorizo with each complete crab and lobster to the percentage, for what, at £ forty-nine, its ideal value. The waiter asks us if we’d like a larger lobster. I ask him how plenty. Instead of answering, he returns with a tea towel-included tray and pulls it lower back to reveal two great, blue-grey creatures, claws twitching. He factors to the bigger one. Again, I ought to ask him how much. He mutters, “£65.” I decline, as it absolutely isn’t that ton bigger.
It’s also unnecessary. The actual disgrace approximately all this rackety, chaotic, now and again clumsy carrier is that it detracts from what’s a truly glorious mess of seafood. It’s a big dish to get up on your armpits in. They say it’s for one or two, but it can, without problems feed 3. There is an ocean-deep broth. This is not anything like either a bouillabaisse or a jus. However, it is spiced and ripe with tomato and chili, and the liquor the great shellfish gives up because it meets its quit. We pull the meat from the lobster and crab, our shells heaping up inside 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 some is really worth now not handiest its own price, but also that of a flight. We drink a reasonably priced Gavi di Gavi at £26 and work our way thru the napkins and the moist wipes.