Back in February we visited Kiko Port restaurant during their Jornadas del Arroz, a month dedicated to traditional rice dishes from La Safor. We were very impressed with the dedication to producing food with a Km.0 philosophy, sourcing the ingredients and only choosing the best, artesan products such as olive oil, rice, embutidos, fish and vegetables from local quality producers. We reported then on one of the many varied menus available.
On Wednesday 19th July, as we had a nearby bodega visit planned for later in the day we dropped into Kiko Port for lunch to see what the menu offered on a `normal´days service, and to renew acquaintance with this family run restaurant.
February´s visit had been on a cold , grey day with low cloud and the beach was being cleaned up from the recent storms. This time in stark contrast the sun was shining, the beach was full of tourists and we were able to sit on the extensive terrace , shaded from the heat of the sun and chose to eat off the `Carta´.
This is a fully comprehensive offer of starters, salads, main courses and desserts, including some offered individually ( such as the croquetas) and with the opportunity to order some by the half-ration or ration meaning the diner has the opportunity to try a wide range of the varied dishes available without breaking the bank or risking over ordering. This was the opportunity to put together a lunch for ourselves which reflected the traditional dishes and fresh produce of Valencia, Oliva, Pego and the rest of La Safor.
We sat with a glass of the local vermut from Xaló, served with a plate of `encurtidos´ whilst the difficult choice was made.
Throughout our visit Susana, the terrace manager was very attentive, was happy to advise us on minor adjustments to our order and regularly checked back to see that the food was to our liking, telling us about the ingredients and their sources , and all of this whilst serving the other tables and liasing with the kitchen on the many questions we raised!
It has to be said that many restaurants in Valencia will not cook rice dishes such as paella unless you have previously ordered it, something we had not done. This is not the case at Kiko Port, we were advised that a seafood paella would take about 45 minutes to cook and a meat based rice dish about an hour. This suited our timetable very well.
We were brought bread, freshly baked rolls, served with grated tomato and home-made allioli, to accompany the starters. We began with a salad, consisting of quality, fresh leaves each with a distinct flavour, apple, avocado, walnut and dried grapes, perfectly dressed.
This was followed by Pescadito, a plate consisting of freshly caught small fish and prawns brought from the local fish market earlier in the morning, lightly floured and fried. There were several varieties included including flat fish and mullet and they were cooked perfectly. The depth of flavour was incredible and we speculated as to whether the flouring included spice or flavour enhancers but Ximó, the new chef assured us that the secret is in the freshness and quality of the ingredients. This is a major part of their philosophy.
We had chosen a selection of the home-made croquetas with different fillings of cod, cheese, sobrasada and `rabo de toro´. Croquetas are notoriously difficult to get right, but when home made bear no relationship to the frozen ones which you buy in the supermarket. The buñuelo of cod ( which is blended with potato) , was light, full of flavour and served with a little allioli. The cheese was rich and with a subtle flavour as was the sobrasada and the rabo de toro rich , to die for, with the meat there to add texture. We matched this with a Rosado from Requena , 2016 Añacal Bobal from Dominio de la Vega. Bright strawberry pink with violet flashes, fresh red fruit ( strawberry and raspberry) on the nose with hints of bubble gum, it is fresh, fruity and has a perfect balancing acidity and sufficient body to accompany any dish. Generally VÍ Vid recommend rosados during July to September instead of red wines which are too heavy for the hot summer temperatures. Rosados have the body of reds but the freshness and acidity of white wines and are perfect with all Valencian dishes.
For our main course we ordered the local version of Paella Valenciana. In this area apart from chicken and rabbit there are three more permitted ingredients. These are pork ribs, `mandonguilles´( little pork meatballs with nutmeg, cinnamon and pine nuts) and strips of red pepper.
This was served absolutely perfectly. The rice was loose, the meat tender and there was `socarrat´, the golden crust on the bottom where the oil begins to caramelise the rice at the end of the cooking process.
We chose a local Turron ice cream for dessert, served with the coffee and a chupito of sweet moscatel from the local co-op in Xaló.
Susana informed us that the restaurant had recently undergone a change of management , Vicent Frasquet handing over to other family members to take the project forward with a new team. We detected little change other than in the personnel. The philosophy of using high quality local ingredients has not changed, the quality of cooking has not changed, the presentation of the dishes remains excellent and the service was impeccable. Congratulations to the new team!
This was a thoroughly enjoyable meal in perfect surroundings and VÍ Vid enthusiastically continues to recommend Kiko Port for a quality, value for money dining experience. We will be back!