One of the most memorable things about my Cunard cruise on the QEII in 2000 was not the cabin or the entertainment – it was the dining.
For extraordinary service and beautifully prepared dishes, it is difficult to beat the luxury cruise line when at sea. When on land, foodies now have the option of Jeanne’s – a new culinary experience offered by Grand Old House.
My friends and I attended the opening evening, held on 7 Nov. For those wondering where this restaurant is located, there is no need to go searching for a newly erected edifice; the Jeanne’s experience is held in the lounge and dining room of the main Grand Old House plantation building.
It had been a while since I had stepped inside the house; I had forgotten about its charming design and dark wood floors with white painted walls.
Servers with white gloves greeted us at the door and invited us to take a seat at the bar or in the lounge so we could order a pre-dinner cocktail. The bar menu features a selection of classic concoctions and I settled on the Cosmopolitan. Yes, I fancy myself to be Sarah Jessica-Parker a la ‘Sex and the City’. I have to say, it was the best Cosmopolitan I had tasted in quite some time
My friend Carol’s Cadillac Margarita was pretty delicious as well, and before we took a seat at the dining table, I had managed to make a dent in a Jeanne’s cocktail – a mix of white rum, fresh pineapple juice, grenadine and maraschino cherry.
There were familiar faces seated in the bar that night, all dressed elegantly with men in jackets and not a hint of jeans in sight. I loved the old-world atmosphere; like a scene from an Agatha Christie story…without the murders. I half-expected Hercule Poirot to walk in the door.
When you book a reservation for Jeanne’s (and you really must), take the time to look at the walls, where you’ll see framed copies of old menus and pictures from yesteryear.
Once seated at our table, we were given our menus. Although some of the dishes will be switched out weekly, the format will remain the same; guests can choose between the tasting menu with or without wine pairing, or they can order a la carte.
The four of us chose to go a la carte, with resident mixologist Nino Hafner happy to pair whichever dishes we had with wines from Grand Old House’s extensive cellar.
What followed was a fantastic meal, served impeccably, starting with a scallop amuse bouche that was absolutely fabulous. Further treats from chef Thushara Siriwaradana included a parmesan souffle (which I ordered – if you love truffle, this is the dish for you), Alaskan cod, lobster Thermidor, Dover sole, and heavenly desserts like the chocolate ganache and lemon tart.
The wine pairings were excellent and the conversation flowed between courses.
We never felt rushed at any point – a night at Jeanne’s is designed to be an indulgence, in every way. Food, drinks and conversation are to be lingered over and savoured.
At this point, you may be wondering where the name ‘Jeanne’s’ comes from. The menu explains the history, but I’ll give you a brief summary. In 1970, Bob and Jeanne Brenton decided to open a unique restaurant in their stately plantation home property. Jeanne in particular became a legend in the local culinary industry and therefore this experience is an homage to her legacy.
At the end of our dinner, after the last sip of port had been enjoyed and the final drop of coffee finished, we sat back and reflected on a lovely evening. The staff couldn’t have been more attentive and the small dining room had an intimate feel that larger restaurants lack.
We went away ready to spread the word about Jeanne’s and eager to return to her dining room in the near future.
Jeanne’s is only open from Thurs-Sat and features weekly changing menus. Seats are limited to no more than 30 guests. For more information, dress code and reservations, call 949-9333 or visit www.grandoldhouse.com/jeannes-at-grand-old-house.