Restaurant owners and small businesses have always said that three things are the key to getting the right start: location; location; location.
That statement could not be truer for Cutter’s Deli in St Philip. On the long road from the Grantley Adams International Airport to the Crane Hotel, and all the way towards Sam Lord’s Castle, there really wasn’t much in terms of restaurants, bars and watering holes of a certain calibre. That is, until about 11 years ago, when Cutter’s Deli began as a takeaway service in owner/manager Roger Goddard’s backyard.
“Cutter’s started in a container in the back of my house, about a mile away, as a delivery service; and we were at the Brighton Farmers’ Market every Saturday for two years. So that got our name out, our product listing, and our customer base up.
“And once we realized that the concept would work we went ahead and acquired the land and built the building,” explained Mr Goddard.
Almost like an oasis springing out of the long clear drive towards Sam Lord’s Castle, Cutter’s Deli provides a welcome respite for thirsty tourists and local workers looking for a good Bajan meal. The name alone is quintessentially Bajan –– referring to the thick salt bread rolls with wedges of ham, cheese, fish, liver, and just about any other meat-based filling served at gatherings, at home and by vendors across the country.
Now, what would a good cutter be without a cool rum punch to wash it down with? The well-tanned propietor flashes a roguish grin when asked about the bold claim that Cutter’s Rum Punch is the No. 1 in the world.
“We’ve been making a traditional Barbadian rum punch; and we don’t aim to be the best, but our customers have told us that we are number one. So that’s how we positioned it,” Mr Goddard offered with a touch of modesty.
I’m quite certain many diehard rum punch makers would challenge that claim, but Mr Goddard says it’s all in good fun.
The bright aquamarine and gold establishment with its patriotic Broken Trident motif is nestled amidst plum-coloured bougainvillea hedges. A shaded outdoor eating area fits perfectly under a plush almond tree.
But upon opening the doors of the rustic façade, I was surprised to find a crisp air-conditioned interior with hardwood floors and a kitschy décor with a continental feel to it –– an interior that bristled with efficiency, tempered by Mr Goddard’s friendly and easy-going nature, and reflected the many nationalities that have passed through Cutter’s on their travels.
This clientele is helped in no small measure by the deli’s close proximity to the Crane Beach Hotel. And even on a moderately quiet Friday afternoon, that mix of clients was evident.
There was repeat visitor David Adderley –– with his family –– patiently awaiting his order of a flying fish salad and a flying fish cutter. During his ten-day visit, his loyalty to Barbados (his ninth visit) and to Cutter’s Deli, in particular, was evident, especially in his attire.
“I discovered Cutter’s six or seven years ago, and this [a well-worn and faded Cutter’s branded cap] was my first purchase at Cutter’s, aside from a fish sandwich. [Now] my two daughters and my wife back in Canada, we wear our Cutter’s hats sometimes in the middle of winter –– when its super cold!”
Then off in the corner beneath sketches of vintage aircraft and prints depicting the Roaring Twenties, were the canoodling couple Minnie and Rob. They were on their first holiday together as a couple, and, though the flight originated in New York, the pair’s roots go much farther abroad.
After her enjoying a chicken roti (speaking to the range of light nibbles available on the menu), I teased the camera-shy Minnie about her still pale complexion for a woman who had been on holiday in the sun for a week.
“I can’t help it. I’m Scandanavian!” she squealed with mock embarrassment.
Her partner Rob was slightly more ruddy in the cheeks than his Swedish girlfriend, but was more interested in celebrating this vacation in a different way.
Though born and raised in the United States, Rob is Jewish and, for him, over rum punch and a chicken roti he was celebrating the Feast Of The Passover. Surely that’s taboo. No?
“Actually before we came away, I asked my mum if it was bad that I was travelling for Passover, and she said, ‘Life’s too short to worry about things like that; so go have fun’,” he responded with an air of total abandon.
So with mum’s approval and a light Cutter’s snack to boot, the adorable pair, on their first Barbadian holiday, purchased a few bottles of Barbadian rum and strolled off, hand in hand, into the sunshine.
The personal recommendations of visitors who have been to the deli before aside, Cutter’s has also cemented its brand with labelling, branded T-shirts, mugs, caps and their very own special blend of pepper sauce.
It looked lethal, winking at me from across the room. So I thought I would let my fish salad, with homemade sauce, speak for itself without the risk of spontaneous combustion. And what it said was simple: fresh and homemade, with a perfect balance of seasonings.
Vintage guitars, interior walls lined with the corks of wine bottles long since consumed, a well-worn World Atlas, a hand-smelted bell for happy hour, and the currencies of countries near and far make an impressive product display . . . . All this surrounding the undeniable Bajan roots of Cutter’s Deli found in the pork crackling on display, the steaming hot macaroni pie, shepherd’s pie, Cutter’s Rum Punch, pepper sauce, mauby and Bajan rum –– and, of course, the cutters.
So the next time you find yourself Across Country, during the daylight hours, and you’re kinda stuck between where you have come from and where you wanna get to, pop into Cutter’s. A great mix of home and away awaits you!