I'm passionate about art, poetry, the English language and all things maritime, and I also love drawing: https://touchpaperdrawingtips.wordpress.com/ Join the Fight for the Reef! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Postcards-for-the-Reef/997018917032291
Goodwood is a very convenient place to live: it has a tram stop and a train station in close proximity, as well as bike tracks, a swimming pool, an excellent library, a thriving community centre, an artisan bakery, a first class butcher... and a surprising number of unusual cafes.
My favourite Goodwood cafe has to be Ginger's, but I fell in love with it long before I realised it's actually run by one of my favourite artists, Megan Roodenrys, and Michelle Kewell, who also manages Richmond Road Studios in Westbourne Park. I had noticed that on Ginger's Rosa St wall was a mural featuring some of the local characters, including Lord Stompy,who regularly busks outside the Foodland supermarket a little further down the road. I also recognised Amanda Blair and the Big Issue vendor who often sits on a marvellous mosaic bench in front of Foodland.
I had no idea that this mural was Megan's work. One summer evening I decided to try eating at Ginger's, because the table at the side window gave such a perfect view of writer in residence Lilliana Rose inviting people to participate in the inaugural Rosa Street Writers' Festival (let's hope that becomes a regular event) - and as soon as I tasted the food I was hooked.
I admit to being a fussy eater these days, as gluten no longer seems to agree with me – so I have to settle for a very limited menu at most cafes. But at Ginger's there's not only a wealth of gluten free options, they actually taste pretty good too. From that first vegetarian salad to the giant breakfast of scrambled eggs I had a few weeks later, I found their menu refreshingly versatile. And now that Megan and Michelle are extending their business down the road, we can buy gluten free products and delectable goats' cheeses at The Larder next door without having to step back on the pavement. I have not found a better gluten free loaf than the one I bought at the Larder - it actually tastes like real bread.
On my second visit to Ginger's I recognised some of Megan's work on the walls, and then it clicked: I remembered she'd started up the Pantry a year or two before, so this was obviously a new venture. Megan has done more than merely add a mural to the side of the building: she and Michelle have created a homely, slightly retro atmosphere that reflects their relaxed, down-to-earth attitude. I love the quirky details, like the ancient clock on the wall that's always 7 hours slow, or the classic newspapers on the walls of the ladies' loo that they found underneath the floorboards during the renovations.
Back to the food. The cafe's open 7 days a week, but only serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. I booked a table on Friday night to celebrate a special birthday, and requested a quiet corner for 7 – so we were accommodated in the original tiny cafe space, that normally only has two or three small tables. Happy Hour is from 5 to 7, so we had time to order two entree dishes from the Happy Hour selection available – warm brie with olives, hummus and caramelised onion, as well as feta croquettes, and this kept us happily munching while we ordered the main course.
There isn't a huge choice of main courses but none of us were disappointed: steak in porcini cream sauce, duck leg with sweet potato and whiting coated with crushed herbs all went down well with a couple of interesting wines I'd never seen before.
The only slight disappointments were that the fish was a little dry, and the gluten free bread wasn't as good as the loaf I bought from the Larder, but otherwise it was a perfect evening. All in all, this is a great place to bring friends and meet friends. The staff are always friendly although sometimes run off their feet, so be prepared to wait sometimes.
Megan and Michelle are often there enjoying the ambience they've created, and on Friday evenings there's always acoustic music, just loud enough without drowning the conversation. And be sure to get there for the grand SALA opening on Aug 1, at 6.30, when you can enjoy a feast of artists' work – but no meals will be served that night, unfortunately.