From outside it looks like any other pub, but inside, Crooklets Inn is transforming into something rather different, a pub with not only decent ale but also food that is a cut well above the usual. This is due to the return of a popular Bude chef, Kyan Hooper. Kyan previously worked at the Inn in 2011-12 but since then has accumulated a wealth of experience in restaurants both in the SW and in Yorkshire.
Now he feels he’s in Bude to stay, having moved back to Crooklets in February 2018. He is the first to admit that at the time no one quite knew what identity the inn had. Sport was pushed and a big screen was offered for the World Cup – obviously – but now the focus is more on rustic modern pub food. Kyan hopes to build an environment open to all, in which everyone feels comfortable. Crooklets offers great food without pretension, as you can see from the photos.
While Kyan’s true passion is seafood, he also offers a popular steak night on Wednesdays. This is no ordinary steak night though, as the high quality of the locally-sourced meat is key. Usually, Kyan also offers a strong vegetarian alternative and lobster/fish from Bude or the Cornish coast, as he loves cooking fish most of all. He grew up with fish, as his Dad, grandparents and uncles were all fishing folk. He uses sustainable fish where possible; he is keen to support the Cornish fishing industry. “It’s quick and simple to cook but also requires skill,” says Kyan.
The food offered is excellent. 90% is made from scratch (except ice cream, though Kyan is hankering after an ice cream maker). Even simple fish and chips tastes better when well – cooked and presented. It is this attention to detail in providing simple but tasty food which is Kyan’s trademark, thus creating a strong local following.
It is obvious from talking to him that he loves his work.
“I couldn’t do anything else. I love it. It’s frustrating and hard at times but it is rewarding to exceed people’s expectations and to constantly seek to make something good even better”.
Kyan’s message to locals is: “Come in and give Crooklets a try. I will not over-promise and under-achieve. Eat wherever, whatever you like on the menu, sit where you like and the quality will be the same, for I cook food I enjoy making for people who enjoy eating it. The menu changes at least weekly with some standard offerings.
We have removed burgers, pizza, and fish and chips because you can have these next door at Tommy Jacks where I also do an occasional stint in the kitchen”.
While Kyan dislikes the word ‘gastropub’ it succinctly sums up what he is trying to achieve at Crooklets. He is enjoying the freedom to be creative, which adds panache to his food, and he enjoys changing the menu according to seasonal availability of ingredients. There’s also the small but crucial issues of what he wants to cook for his customers. This skill, passion and freedom to cook what he chooses pays off.
In seeking an alternative to ‘gastropub’, we decided to settle for ‘professionalism without pretension’. Kyan’s food is simple, ingredients-based, a move away from technical pretentiousness. He is not setting out to impress but simply to provide great ingredients, often local, cooked with care. Crooklets is indeed a ‘pub with decent food’.
Key points to note for your visit:
Sunday – food is offered all day
Roasts work on the basis of when they’re gone, here gone.
Blackboard menu changes daily.
Opens 5 nights a week Weds-Sunday
No lunches during the week but food all day at weekends, includes Saturday brunch
Competitive prices for quality food.
Kyan hopes to introduce an ‘early bird’ menu for autumn. He firmly believes Crooklets will continue adapting to local customer needs as it establishes a strong, consistent offering in a town which has a large number of food outlets. Locals are important to him in sustaining a year-round business, so why not see what’s on offer?