Looks are more than skin deep in this gal, and that’s before we get into Chef Matthew Liddell’s sensitive approach to local produce. Patel Phillips, Restaurant Manager, envelops you in a beam of sincere warmth the moment you step over the threshold of ‘his home’, radiating pride in The Estate House.
Phillips is a home-grown talent, local is a key ingredient in the restaurant’s success. Antiguan born, he began working on Jumby Island in the kitchens, then the beach, then quickly moved up via more cosmopolitan locations. He returned with the knowledge that wherever he travelled ‘people were always proud to show off what is local and only found in the place they call home. I am proud to be a part of a restaurant that is showcasing Antigua in a truly refined way.’
So that brings us to the menu, all in the deft hands of Mathew Liddell who loves local as much as Patel, reveling in the abundance of produce harvested from the Jumby Bay farm. The Chef de Cuisine comes from a 3 Michelin star pedigree, achieving Chef de Groupe when working with Alain Ducasse, a happy career swerve after a spell as a pro skateboarder, which he is typically modest about.
He is, however, eloquent about his goal in The Estate House kitchens:
‘To give the restaurant an authenticity by saying something about where we are, using the produce around us. Importing ingredients will always be a problem in terms of quality so the answer is quite simply not to do it. It can rob a restaurant of its identity, and colleagues of their pride. Our seas are full and our passionate local farmers deserve our support.’
Matthew gives an example: ‘Yes, there are different types of chickens in the world, our local chicken is certainly no Poulet de bresse, but it was never meant to be that and we prepare it with every inch the same level of respect. Knowing the farmer, understanding their husbandry techniques right down to the diet and age of the animal gives us peace of mind that we are giving our guests the very best we can and with a clear conscience.’
There are local green shoots in the kitchen too, Junior Sous Chef, Eustace Cabrall, is a young man with a strong culinary instinct. His early ambitions were to be a pilot, now he’s swapped skies for stars, the Michelin type. He is keen to share some of his menu favorites, a contagious habit that makes you want to run in and grab a sample straight from the kitchens. Today’s obsession is their gazpacho, inspired by Matthew’s morning walk around the Jumby Bay farm – the air redolent with basil and baby tomatoes, which he’s spiced up with Suzie’s tantalizing hot sauce.
But before you taste the menu, envisage walking through the double-height entrance into empire-era glamour after this generous refurbishment. Pull up a stool at the 1830 bar and let them shake up a rum punch, and sip and savor The Estate House’s local history.
Infused with some Caribbean spice, sashay through into the clubby classy restaurant for dinner, or choose one of the private rooms. Interiors are inspired by the Estate House’s rich history, with three private dining rooms individually evoking wanderlust, tropical isles and romantic adventurers.
Patel, Matthew and Eustace welcome you to The Estate House at Jumby Bay Island for rum and splendor, steeped in local flavor, that after all is the point of travel.
To find out more, visit Jumby Bay Island’s website.