Generally I feel having a cup of coffee and a few biscuits in an establishment hardly justifies a write-up of that establishment.
We called for coffee but spent a couple of great hours here.
In the case of the Farm Lodge Country House Hotel I believe an exception is very much warranted on the basis that the coffee was without doubt the best coffee I had tasted in some time and the biscuits were delicious. The coffee is home grown and home roasted and the biscuits were home made. Coffee and biscuits were prepared as we enjoyed a lovely stroll in the gardens.
Stephen and Maureen are fantastic hosts and were more than happy to cater for use arriving mid-afternoon without announcement (the hotel is open to non guests only by prior arrangement). I had been “introduced” to Stephen and Maureen though spending some time with Maureen’s sister on my trip from Cape Town to St Helena and am so glad I took up her invite to just call in at her sisters anytime.
The building itself is worthy a visit. It was built in around 1750 as an East India Company planter's house and was at one stage considered as an appropriate lodging for Napoleon during his exile on the Island though, for security reasons, the more exposed Longwood house was used for this purpose. There is however a link with Napoleon here - in fact two. As I mentioned in my Longwood House review an original wine-cooler and chaise longue belonging to Napoleon were acquired from Longwood and are here for the pleasure of guests. Stephen and Maureen spent a very large amount of money and many years renovating the house prior to opening it as a hotel and in addition to the Napoleonic artifacts the place is packed with delightful quality furniture and memorabilia.
The lodge is set in its own grounds of five acres with lawns and lush tropical gardens which in fact include the small coffee plantation alluded to earlier. I gather, the slightest complement of the coffee here provides Stephen with ample excuse to get you out for an explanation of his coffee sideline – a true labour of love. In addition coffee making and hotel business, Stephen has had a fascinating life (on the high seas – much of it with the RMS St Helena) and is a splendid raconteur. You will love him.
The afternoon was topped off by the unexpected sighting of a Wirebird – St Helena endemic and national bird. Refer to my separate tip – Go find a Wirebird.
Clearly the hotel is not here merely to provide coffee and biscuits to uninvited guests. This is a fully operational hotel and if you chose not to stay in Jamestown (see my general accommodation tip on this) based on feedback from some RMS St Helena friends who did stay here ( I didn’t) I have no hesitation recommending it and its food. Reviews elsewhere on the internet would also support this recommendation. Even if your not staying here you can still dine here by prior appointment – most of the food – including some meat – is grown on the property though the cigars are imported!
I honestly can't recall for sure what I paid for the coffee and biscuits for two - I think it was GBP5 which for what we got the location was fantastic value.
Favorite Dish: Best coffee and biscuits on St Helena
Anne's Place - the only restaurant on the island. It serves traditional fish dishes and locally-grown coffee. The Hotels and guest houses also serve meals however and the food is wonderful
Favorite Dish: The St Helena spicy fish stew
There are very few places in Jamestown open on a Sunday Night for dinner and this in one of them. As such we were surprised when we went to dinner at around 7.30pm and no one was there and apart from one takeaway order no-one came in all evening.
The décor and general ambiance (for an empty restaurant) was ok and of the level I would have anticipated. The one thing I did “love” was the flashing lights on the drinks cabinet. I am not sure that my attached video does it justice but it will give you an idea of what it was like.
I have a soft spot for tackiness when it’s not mine – don’t you love the wine cooler? I should have left when this appeared.
The food reminded me of what I used to get from a Chinese restaurant in Belfast about 30 years ago and that is not a compliment. It lacked taste, texture or anything really and both dishes tasted pretty much the same.
Had I paid GBP3-5 a dish (the going rate for average food around Jamestown) I would probably just have shrugged my shoulders and said you get what you pay for. Each dish cost GBP12-15 – more than you would pay in London or Paris for very good versions of the same dish. As I recall – the rice was GBP6 or more for the gluggy mess you see in the attached picture. The picture flatters it somewhat.
A couple of days later I owned up to having dined here to a couple who were returning to the UK after a couple of years on St Helena – the had never eaten here and by their account no-one does! Given the paucity of food outlets on the Island it really says something if someone who lived here two years resisted from at least trying it once.
The Restaurant's Facebook page catagorises it as "fine dining". I beg to differ.
Favorite Dish: Can't recommend any food but did enjoy the flashing lights on the drinks cabinet.
Somewhat if an institution in St Helena, Anne’s place has been serving yachties and other visitors to St Helena now for over 30 years. Anne’s place was originally run, as they name suggests, by Anne Sim and is now run by Jane retaining its very nautical feel with flags and ships memorabilia in abundance. The ‘ceiling’ is actually a canopy constructed from flags from all over the world, many signed by the vessel’s crew and telling the story of their visit.
This café style restaurant cum bar is located in the very charming Castle Gardens in the centre of Jamestown and offers a combination of indoor/outdoor style dining ideally suited to the tropical climate of St Helena and the James Valley in particular.
The café offers a good choice for all meals from breakfast to dinner though I only had dinner here – on the first evening. While no-where near the quality of the food I had got used to over the previous 5 days on the RMS St Helena ( this was off course reflected in the somewhat lower bill!) the food is of reasonably good quality and the place has a good ambiance so I have no problems recommending it. It is a good value restaurant enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. As you might expect locally caught fish features highly on the menu – the fishcakes are good. It would have been nice, had time permitted, to have come back here during the day and enjoy lunch, a snack or even a drink overlooking the Castle Gardens.
The café offers both wifi and coin-operated internet access but is at pains to point out that the service is provided by Cable & Wireless and technical support cannot be provided. This probably says something about the quality of the connection and the speed that you can expect. I didn’t try it out but can assure you it doesn’t come cheap.
While the RMS St Helena is in port or in transit between St Helena and Ascension Ann Place is open 9am to 9pm. At other times its Mon – Sat 9am to 3pm and 6pm to 8.30pm and Sun 9.30am to 2.30pm.
Favorite Dish: Try the fishcakes
When I was in St Helena I stayed at the Wellington House Hotel (across the road from the Consulate). It was more than adequate for my needs and indeed I really enjoyed it there. All accommodation on St Helena is expensive and the Consulate charge around GBP200pn for double B&B – hard to justify the hefty premium, though from chatting to those who stayed there it is good.
Anyway this review is a restaurant review. On my last day I had lunch at the Consulate – not in to the formal guest dining room but rather a casual lunch in the coffee shop cum gourmet food shop, cum art gallery.
The food here is excellent and actually good value for money – I had anticipated it being rather more expensive. Lunch-time fare consists of lasagna and chips/salad, fish and chips, pie and chips, sandwiches – that’s sort of thing. It is a great shame however that everything is imported including the fish! As I have indicated elsewhere, what little bit of subsistence agriculture that did exist has long since ceased with the main source of employment now being the government and Basil Read (building an airport) with a bit of secondary services – shops, pubs and the like supporting government/airport activity.
The boutique food shop sells pasta, oils, sauces, small goods, chocolates and such like of the more gourmet level not available in the few general stores on the island. The clientele would be the small number of expats on the island and a few of the better of locals.
The art gallery – have a look while you wait for your food to be served - is military orientated and as you might expect Napoleon figures highly. A few interesting prints here.
The hotel has a well stocked bar and is a great place for a pre-dinner drink on the verandah as you engage in the favorite Jamestown pastime of people watching. If you sit here you can watch the locals sitting on the benches outside the tourist office – a prime viewing location – watching you, watching them!
As there are only a few dining options in town you will invariably end up here for some meal or other anyway. Its nice to know, however, that it is actually worth going to in its own right as opposed to you having to go there because there is nothing else!
Favorite Dish: Standard fare here but much better than you would expect to find on a rock mid Atlantic!
Unfortunately the charming Dot passed away a few years ago.
Whether her restaurant that was known as Dot's still exist, I do not know.
She made the best fish cakes on the island. She also made real home cooked meals like stews served with rice and salad. We always enjoyed a cup of "island coffee" with Dot at the end of our meal. St Helena Island produces an award winning coffee bean, known as the island's "green gold".
Dot was one of kind. But I believe there are a few very good restaurants on the island at present.
Favorite Dish: Fish cakes with bite
Fish cakes without bite