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Yarmouth restaurant's 30-year reign

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:13 03 July 2010

THE signed pictures on the wall represent a veritable Who's Who of British flat racing.

On race days in Yarmouth, the Seafood Restaurant, run by Miriam and Chris Kikis, has become the finishing post for such luminaries as jockey Frankie Dettori and trainers Henry Cecil and Clive Brittain.

THE signed pictures on the wall represent a veritable Who's Who of British flat racing.

On race days in Yarmouth, the Seafood Restaurant, run by Miriam and Chris Kikis, has become the finishing post for such luminaries as jockey Frankie Dettori and trainers Henry Cecil and Clive Brittain.

Now the restaurant on North Quay has reached its own significant furlong marker - 30 years in business, successfully negotiating the challenges of a Yarmouth economy that might, at times, have been compared to the fences of a National Hunt steeplechase.

Chris, who from the very outset strove to challenge people's tastes with monkfish and shark at a time when cod and Dover sole were de rigueur, recalled the town was on a high when they opened their door in June 1979. “We would watch streams of holidaymakers arrive by train on a Saturday and Yarmouth was at the height of its oil and gas boom,” he said.

In the intervening years, the couple have seen the holiday trade dwindle and oil companies leave town, but their restaurant - once acclaimed by the legendary late critic Sir Clement Freud - has continued to thrive and become a symbol of the work ethic that led to the rapid growth of the town's Greek Cypriot community.

Miriam, a refugee of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, with painful memories of her father having to flee their home and family business in Famagusta in his pyjamas, said: “People's expectations and tastes have changed because of much more widespread travelling and through the impact of the media and celebrity chefs - when we started out monkfish was regarded as poor man's scampi but now it is considered a luxury.

“As a chef, Chris is always trying to do something different and something special and we strive to meet individual expectations. For example, one customer with throat cancer was delighted when we liquidised his lobster thermidor.”

While the early-morning pilgrimage to Lowestoft fish market has not altered in 30 years - Chris swears that North Sea fish is the best - prices have changed dramatically.

“Cod was £2.50 a stone in 1979 and now it's £55 a stone. A lobster dish with all the trimmings would have set you back £1.25,” said Chris, who was living and working in Yarmouth when he met Miriam.

The couple, who were the first to have their wedding at the Ocean Room, in Gorleston, explained that seafood was a natural for the racing fraternity as it was quick to prepare, nutritious and low in calories.

The restaurant is not destined to become a family dynasty, with the couple's two sons both working in Holland, but Miriam is confident the outer harbour will bring continuing success to their business.

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