WESTERLY — If she had her way, Frances Medina would walk up to just about every table and question diners how they were enjoying their foods.
Medina is the head chef at Surf Cantina, Westerly’s new Mexican fusion restaurant, which opened on Canal Street in December and in which pasta dishes and fish and chips are served along with tacos and warm, designed-to-purchase corn tortillas.
“I appreciate viewing individuals appreciate the meals I have ready,” stated Medina, who ran the kitchen area at Rio Salado in Mystic prior to joining Daniel Van Kruiningen and Kenneth Fontaine in their hottest culinary journey. “It is my enthusiasm.”
Van Kruiningen and Fontaine are no strangers to the regional cafe scene. Van Kruiningen, who ran Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in Mystic for a selection of ears, also opened a selection of places at Mohegan Sunlight. Fontaine owns the Norwich Bowling & Enjoyment Center.
In 2016, the pals put together their expert backgrounds with their enjoy of food items and consume and opened Chapter One Foods & Consume in Mystic. In 2018, they opened their next cafe in Guilford, on the Guilford Environmentally friendly. Surf Cantina is their latest collaboration.
“It is really a hybrid cafe, a community eatery with a real coastal vibe,” explained Functions Supervisor Justin Cerro of Stonington, who has overseen the opening of the cafe that is found in a developing with a storied previous.
When the residence of the famous China Village, the place was also occupied by 84 on Canal and ahead of that Señor Flacos.
“We opened up the side of the constructing and place in massive bar windows,” Cerro explained. “We gave the space what it justifies.”
In great weather conditions, he explained, the clear garage doors will roll up and be “open to the outdoor.”
As considerably as opening an additional Mexican cafe downtown, when Wendy Carr’s preferred Amigos Taqueria Y Tequila is just couple of doorways away, Cerro mentioned Surf Cantina is a unique form of cafe.
“Absolutely sure, we have tacos and tequila,” he claimed. “But if I needed standard Mexican meals, I’d be the initially just one to wander right down the avenue to Amigos.
“We are more world wide … or new American. Road food items. A cantina.”
Medina, who life in Ledyard with her spouse Sara and their 9-calendar year-previous daughter, Avery, mentioned she’s created a sort of “Mexican fusion menu” for the restaurant.
“It is really a Baja type,” she additional. “We have terrific burgers, also, and salads, in addition to tacos.”
Medina explained she needed to “give a nod” to Westerly and Westerly traditions so she worked really hard to produce a novel area dish.
Her soupy soup, a chowder loaded with regionally created soupy, clams, grilled corn and product, has turn into a signature dish, she reported.
“I knew I preferred to have a chowder on the menu,” she mentioned, “but I realized I wished it to be various.”
When the soupy soup may perhaps be delicious and well-known, Medina stated it’s her octopus and chorizo that has come to be the most well known item on the menu.
“I was stunned,” Medina reported about the generation that involves crispy octopus, chorizo, white sweet potato and cashew salsa macha. “I are unable to continue to keep it in the cafe.
“I understood octopus would be common,” she included with a chuckle, “but I did not know how well known.”
Medina said she prepares the dish by poaching the octopus in crimson wine then rolling it in gluten-cost-free bread crumbs just before it will get fried.
“We have a great deal of gluten-totally free things,” she claimed, “and a good deal of vegetarian selections, way too.”
Medina, who was born and elevated in New York, reported she inherited her adore of individuals, food stuff and cooking from her mother, a appreciate she looks to be passing along to her daughter.
“She’s obsessed with baking,” Medina mentioned, “but she isn’t going to like to measure.
“I continue to keep telling her, ‘Avery, when you are whipping up a dish, it is really one point,” Medina explained with a chuckle. “But when you are baking, you have to measure.”