All information in this blog post is correct as of the publishing date, 18.10.19. Updated 28.05.20.
It may be small, but Guernsey is a foodie’s paradise with delicious local food, gourmet dining and food festivals. In fact, the Channel Islands have become so popular in all thing’s food and drink, The Good Food Guide has named them as the number one place to visit for foodies in the British Isles. As well as Jersey restaurant Bohemia making the Guide’s Top 50, the guide mentioned a number of ‘Local Gems’ including several eateries dotted around the Guernsey Bailiwick. If you are planning a holiday to the island, then every day of your Guernsey holidays could see you sampling something new and tasty, and you’ll never get bored with what’s on offer!
In October, foodies head to Guernsey and Jersey to not miss out on Tennerfest, a food festival held annually and runs from the start of October and a week into November. Each year, Guernsey chefs from the restaurants, hotels, cafés, gastro pubs and bistros take part in providing a fixed price, low-cost menu. The menus showcase the very best, and you can expect to see several mouth-watering signature dishes on the menus. Across all the Channel Islands, there are over 120 businesses taking part, so you can try something every night and not have to break the bank!
Guernsey’s traditional cuisine is distinctly Anglo-French but there is a wide variety of cuisines to choose from including Italian, Spanish, Indian and American. The three-course menus range from £10 to £20 per person in price and several eateries offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options too. Head over to the Tennerfest website to see the full list of restaurants and cafés taking part and what is on their menus, details for 2020’s festival to be announced summer 2020!
Wild Food Foraging
There is a wide variety of food you can forage in Britain, and along with people becoming more conscious of buying local, sustainable food, growing their own fruit and vegetables and changing diets, there has been a rising interest wild foraging. The hedgerows, woodlands, meadows and seashore of Guernsey are rich in edible plants, and you can join tours and workshops with Wild Guernsey or go out on your own. On a tour with Wild Guernsey, you will learn how to identify the edible mushrooms, spot the best places for wild garlic, discover wild ingredients that can spice up a meal and find out how to go foraging sustainably.
The mild maritime climate of Guernsey has made it a fantastic location for picking wild food, particularly along the shore where you can find seaweed and sea kelp to cook back at your holiday accommodation. Or you can wander the woodlands to find beechnuts and hazelnuts along with rosehips and sloes in the autumn months, though there is always something to find whatever time of year you visit Guernsey.
Guernsey has a wonderful mix of relaxed beachfront cafés and upmarket gourmet restaurants suitable for a date night or special occasion on your holiday, with many of them located in St Peter Port, the island’s capital. For delicious steak and seafood, head to Balthazar which overlooks the quay. They serve locally sourced seafood in a modern restaurant, from grilled lobster to seabass, as well as meat dishes such as slow-cooked pork and duck breast. You can also go for a sharing steak or try oysters with champagne.
Being an island, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from in Guernsey, and a favourite among locals and holidaymakers is Pier 17. The relaxed atmosphere combined with delicious food has put the restaurant on the map and you can tuck into a seafood platter, scallops and lobster thermidor, with plenty of starters, sides and desserts too.
Other gourmet restaurants include Gusto and Da Nello, for Italian cuisine, The Hook for sushi and Confucius for Chinese. It’s a small place, but Guernsey has plenty of upscale restaurants to suit every taste bud!
Traditional Local Food and Drink
What has brought many visitors to Guernsey is the traditional and local food and drink available. Many of the seafood restaurants in Guernsey are serving the day’s catch in the evening, so you can guarantee that the lobster, oysters or fish is fresh. And if you’re after some crab, beach kiosks and cafés serve up delicious crab sandwiches.
One of the most popular local foods on Guernsey is cheese. The Guernsey Dairy turns the rich milk from their Guernsey cows into smoked, mild, mature and some limited-edition cheeses, as well as ice cream and dairy cream. These cheeses can be found in various restaurants and you can also get the award-winning Fort Grey, a soft blue cheese, from a select few stores such as Nelio’s Deli and Co-op in St Martin’s. Guernsey is also home to the rare breed of Golden Guernsey goats, who produce creamy milk perfect for cheese. You can purchase some goats cheese at Le Douit Beuval farm, along with meat, yoghurt, jams and jellies.
There are other local dishes you should aim to try, including Guernsey bean jar, a cassoulet-type bean dish which has been around for centuries and is still popular today. The dish was eaten for breakfast, but today is more often a comfort food to have after a blustery day outdoors. For those with a sweet tooth, try Guernsey gâche, a fruit bread which is a speciality of the island, and served with butter, jam or cheese. You’ll find it in most cafés and tea shops as well as bakeries.
For something to drink, there is Rocquette cider. Guernsey has been growing apples as early as the 16th century, and Rocquette cider is made with traditional methods. There is a range of drinks available, including non-alcoholic apple juice, and you can buy bottles of their delicious cider in supermarkets and pubs throughout the Channel Islands. If beer is more to your taste try Randalls Beer, which is brewed on Guernsey and can be found in shops and pubs around the island.