Jude Kereama: Kota & Kota Kai Restaurants, Porthleven
Ode To Jude (And Jane!)
I've lost track of time but I think it was about 10 years ago that Jane and Jude arrived in the village to take over the lease at The Smokehouse. My sons were small and it was a great informal place with pizzas for the fussy one but from day one it was obvious that the standard of cooking was seriously good with really high quality special dishes available every night.
A few years later the long established Critchards on the Harbour Head became available and the dynamic couple sold up their house and moved in to live over the shop and create the restaurant they had obviously been planning for a long time. Right from the start magical dishes were created, some complex, some simple, some classic, always good but regularly stunning.
I remember eating a chowder once that was so good that I slowed down to make it last as long as possible to the frustration of my family and seriously considered cancelling my main course and eating it again. Despite the high end food the atmosphere remained friendly and my youngest son was famous for looking at the menu and then ordering cheesy spaghetti. Jane wouldn't bat an eyelid and out would come a plate so good that the boys would start fighting over it and I'd consider ordering it for myself next time.
Standards have only continued to improve and the turbot & chicken wing dish I had last week was simply one of the best plates of food I have ever eaten. (and I've eaten a lot!)
In 2011 the renovation of the harbour head building with the promise of a family restaurant seemed to be going nowhere until the Kereamas decided that they just had too much spare time and Kota Kai was born. You might think it's never going to be the same as Jude can't be in two places at once except that the quality really remains consistent with a short menu of ultra tasty things. The Laksa in particular is one of my favourite things in the world and at £14 less than many plates of microwaved rubbish served in pubs eveywhere.
It's a good job that I can't add up what I have spent with Jude & Jane over the years as I must have literally eaten with them hundreds of times and honestly never been disappointed.
Now Jude Kereama is one of the names on The Great British menu 2015 and I almost feel as though our secret is out and the world will realise what they have been missing. Let's hope there will always be a little place in the corner for me when the waiting list for tables is measured in months not hours!