Cornwall LivingIssue #145

Relaunch and Renovation

Words by Jude Kereama

Porthleven’s Kota Kai Bar & Restaurant reopens it doors, revealing an extensive refurbishment and a brand-new menu, bringing a fresh look and feel to this much-loved eaterie.

Kota Kai Bar & Restaurant is situated in the heart of the historic Cornish village of Porthleven, which I am delighted to call home. Overlooking the harbour and just moments from our sister restaurant, Kota, I am proud that Kai has become a favourite of the local community and visitors, but this year we recognised that after 13 successful years, Kai was ready for
a reinvention.

Kota Kai was originally created to provide a family-friendly option with integrity. Our intention was to create a restaurant that offered a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere with a delicious menu, peppered with Asian elements; one that would stand out from the usual family-friendly fayre, and give a nod to my half Maori, half Chinese Malay heritage. Now, 13 years on, with my experienced and loyal team of Head Chef Marcus Houghton and General Manager Jenna Sawle, Kai is being relaunched with a full refurbishment and renovation. Our intention is to create a version of the restaurant that retains its warm welcome, but with added sophistication.   

It felt like the right time to evolve the offering at Kota Kai to something a little bit more grown up. It is important to us that it still feels like a welcoming place for families but is a destination for drinks and snacks too. The open-plan layout really highlights our special location, drawing the eye to the views across the harbour. We also have a slightly different menu format with some great new dishes we’ve been working on, accompanied by an extensive drinks list which we are excited to introduce to our guests. Myself and the team have worked with Steve Coombe from 3idog to refurbish the restaurant interiors and deliver the vision for the refresh. A new colour scheme has been introduced alongside more natural materials and textures, to create a calmer, more cohesive space. A long statement bar and new dining furniture has been installed. Bespoke handmade lighting by Lovelinkin baskets, artwork by local artists including Felix Griffiths, Zee Van G, Jo Hague and photography by Jack Johns adorns the walls. We’ve used local tradesmen and suppliers where possible for the work, including the installation of a statement woodburner from Wendron Stoves. It’s been all hands on deck for a fast turnaround, the team have all worked so hard and I am so happy to see the end results.

With an extensive cocktail menu by The Bearded Barman, Chris Jarrett, a wine list with many New World wines and a new bar area, Kai will be a place to kick back with a cocktail and snacks with friends, or a meal overlooking the harbour. In the summer months our guests can sit outside and take in the sea views, ordering from a new ground-floor bar. With 90 covers, we hope Kai will be buzzing! It’s a popular destination with unbeatable views, and while the interiors have come of age, we intend to maintain the laidback atmosphere and delightful menu it’s become known for. With our new Josper grill, our menu features dishes cooked over the charcoal embers, giving things a smoky touch, and will remain true to our ethos of sourcing some of the best ingredients from Cornwall and the West Country; expect feature dishes such as Cornish Hanger Steak with Asian herb dressing or Char Sui Monkfish on grilled Gear Farm greens.

Throughout January, my attention has also been on the reopening of Kota following its annual January break. Kota’s menu, like Kai’s, focuses on using local and seasonal produce with an Asian twist, but with 40 covers and holding three AA Rosettes, Kota is our relaxed high-end dining offering. With Head chef Ross Sloan heading up the kitchen team again for 2024, and Elle Lagdon front of house, we have decided to retain our popular tasting menu concept but with a slight refresh and change of direction as the menu has taken inspiration from our relationships with some new suppliers. We are also offering a small tasting menu at lunch times on a Friday and Saturday, giving people a chance to sample a taste of Kota over a relaxed lunch. I am proud that Kota’s success continues to be recognised by its many accolades and continues to go from strength to strength, and I’m excited to see what 2024 will bring!

Kota Kai
Celtic House, Harbour Head, Porthleven TR13 9JY
01326 727707