LOCAL FOODIE culture with Cantina
With a fresh new look and a major role in the new Seafood FEAST, Cantina at Goodrington is the place to be. The Shorely spoke to co-owner Queenie Martin to talk fish, fun and mermaid gin!
What could be better than kicking back in the sunshine with a long, cold drink, and a bowl of mussels whilst listening to music by the sparkling sea? As co-owner of Cantina Kitchen and Bar in Goodrington, Queenie Martin gets to enjoy all the perks of running a top restaurant in one of the most desirable locations in the Bay.
In the two years it’s been open, Cantina has built up a solid reputation for good food and great atmosphere, thanks to its regular live music performances. Visitors and locals have come to love this place, which has just undergone a major refurbishment in time for the summer season.
Queenie and the team are also heavily involved with the upcoming Seafood FEAST event, a two-week festival celebrating Torbay's stunning seafood. Cantina will be hosting cookery demos as well as other seafood-related events from its perfect beachside position.
Queenie is passionate about food so it was a dream come true when the former Red Rocks café building at Goodrington came up for sale. “On the day it came up, friends messaged me to say we had to buy it,” says Queenie, who has worked in the catering trade. Her partner Kate Allen has also built up a successful career in the food industry and the pair were ready for a new challenge.
Together with brother-in-law and experienced chef Barry George, Queenie and Kate took the plunge and launched their new business. “The scariest moment of my life was when we were sat in that auction room, ready to buy the building,” says Queenie. “My heart was beating so hard in my chest; it must have looked like a cartoon! I suddenly thought: what if we don’t get it? I hadn’t planned for that.”
Fate sealed the deal and after months of hard work, Cantina opened its doors on 15th July 2016. Head chef Barry, who has cooked for celebrities, food critics, magazine editors and worked in a VIP restaurant at Glastonbury, is in charge of the kitchen. Kate is front of house and Queenie takes care of planning and marketing, including booking the live music events that Cantina is also becoming famous for. Queenie’s daughters also work at the restaurant and her grandchildren are a regular feature too. This is a proper family business.
“What’s not to love about working with family? “ says Queenie, who lives within walking distance of Cantina and divides her time between the restaurant and her job as an accountant. “Our quality of life is so good. Barry loves fishing and Kate loves going out on the kayak – we keep a kayak on the roof! We also love wild swimming. I remember we had lovely weather for the first eight weeks after we opened and lots of our business meetings were held at midnight when we went for a dip in the sea.”
This idyllic existence is fuelled by some seriously mouth-watering food. Cantina prides itself on its local fish, as well as staples such as pizza and hearty Sunday roasts. The seasonal specials board features whole lobster, Dorset clam linguine, Brixham crab, mackerel and a host of other seafood delights, often served with Paignton artisan bread.
Cantina even has its own gin. Staff worked with Devon Distillery to create Mermaid’s Ruin, a blend of botanicals inspired by the seaside, including dulse seaweed, pink peppercorns and lemon zest. Watch out for a new gin launching 9 June 2018 - National Gin Day of course!
Such quality local produce is surely helping Torbay on its way to becoming a foodie haven.“Brixham has managed to change its reputation and become a food destination,” says Queenie, adding that she is proud Cantina is part of the area’s bright culinary future. “Both Torquay and Paignton have really pulled themselves up recently. Things are changing and we’re so pleased with how well we’ve been received.
“It’s been a lot of work, but after a hard day here – ok you might want to go home and take your legs off to swap them for another pair – but chances are, you’ll have listened to some lovely music, eaten some great food and listened to customers saying how much they love it. That’s such a cool thing to be a part of.”
Find our more about Cantina, their seasonal menu and latest events on their website. Torbay's first ever Seafood FEAST runs from 22nd September to 7th October 2018. The food festival, part of the England’s Seafood Coast project and backed by top local chef Mitch Tonks, will include cookery workshops, wine tastings and coastal foraging, as well as the opportunity to eat loads of world-class fish. Find out more online