“My wife Karine has the eye for colour,” says John Baker gazing round the chocolate brown ground floor lounge bar. “We met in Luxembourg. Having lived on the Continent for around 20 years, we are looking to bring the food dishes that we loved over to the British Isles. We want to establish the sort of place we would love to come to! St Ives is lovely but very touristy. Our ethos is we want to be part of the community, to be local. That’s why we’ve chosen Truro.”
Moules frites arrive in a newspaper made of china. Quirkiness is a feature of the interior from a tailor’s dummy to an outsized print of Sir Winston Churchill. Strategically placed jewellery and giftware are for sale. Upstairs are six dining rooms of varying sizes and aspects holding up to 50 guests. It’s all very cosily elegant and elegantly cosy. They had a good canvas to work with though. JAKS occupies a particularly attractive 1830s end of terrace villa with a south facing garden.
Named Castle Lodge, it is one of many houses in Truro designed by the deaf and dumb architect Philip Sambell for the developer Josephus Ferris. Walsingham Place, a curved street close to Truro Cathedral, is the architect’s best known residential work. Castle Lodge belongs to a group of terraces lining the River Kenwyn. Mostly stuccoed, they have interesting and sometimes idiosyncratic features such as double height pilasters and elaborate glazing patterns. The architect’s trademark is a niche. Indoors, there’s plenty of decorative plasterwork in the main rooms.
“Karine is from Metz in northeastern France,” John relates. “We’ve created a menu that is Continental with a local twist. There’s tarte flambée which is like a very very thin pizza topped with caramelised onions, lardons and cream. And there’s Cornish mussels!” Two of the most adventurous sounding puddings originate from Karine’s part of the world: poire belle Hélène (poached pear with ice cream and hot chocolate sauce) and coupe colonel (lemon sorbet in vodka).