Derby’s food and drink scene continues to flourish, and one of the openings I am most excited about, is Bodega Cantina, set to open its doors next month.


I caught up with founder of Bitters ‘n’ Twisted Matt Scriven. Bodega belongs to the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted stable’; here is what the trailblazing entrepreneur had to say about his passion for food and drink, and the highly delicious Tequila and Mezcal tasting boards guaranteed to leave a party in your mouth.

Derby is the fourth opening in the Midlands. What do you think Bodega Cantina can bring to Derby’s food and drink scene? 

I think Bodega’s authentic, home-made and flavoursome dishes should add an extra dimension to what is available in Derby.  There are already a number of quality independent bars and restaurants from what I’ve seen on my visits, so I believe the demand should exist in Derby for our food and drinks which are all made with passion.  We have a significant range of fantastic South American sourced drinks encompassing beers, spirits, cocktails and wines that will match with the food or enable people to just enjoy something different on their night out.

How do you want diners to feel when they’re tucking into Bodega Cantina’s delicious dishes?  

I want them to feel like Bodega cares about their experience with us.  The food flavours are authentic and freshly made on site, the drinks are often handcrafted with skill and the service will be fantastic and informative.  The venue design will hopefully make customers feel transported to somewhere a bit quirky and contemporary.

What can Bodega Cantina fans expect from the brand this year? Any exciting menu changes you can tell us about?     

After a recent trip to Mexico the focus is currently on developing new taco flavours using slow cooked meats and zesty garnishes. So, expect matches such as shredded chicken in mole sauce with homemade crunchy slaw.

What is your favourite dish on the menu? What are the bestsellers?     

Quesadillas are a great comfort food, ours featuring rich melted cheese and homemade beef chilli is a favourite of mine.  We’re semi-famous for our homemade nachos, our shredded chicken burrito is very popular and lately our Xim Xim dish received a lot of positive feedback – prawns and chicken in a delicious and smooth peanut butter sauce.

As Bitters ‘n’ Twisted venue founder with a stable of successful bars and restaurants, food and drink plays a key part in your life. Have you always been passionate about food and drink? 

Yes I have. Visits to new towns, cities and countries have always tended to focus on the food and drink options and I love the vibrancy and opportunity for discovery with hospitality.  A great food and drink experience can truly live with you for some time afterwards, creating great memories.  That’s the business I’m in – creating great memories.

If you’re a keen cook, what would be your choice of desert island ingredients?

I make a pretty good paella so everything needed for that would be nice.  Mine usually features chorizo and prawns.

How long does it take to plan a Bodega Cantina menu, from concept and testing, through to making it on the menu?    

A couple of months.  We try to involve the chefs in the creative process as much as possible, so there is a period of trial and error for many new dishes which does take time.

I’m seeing a resurgence in wine-matching, where the act of pairing of food and wine is gaining popularity and is now seen as less stuffy. What do you think are the merits of wine-matching, and do you get to have a say in the exciting tastings?       

Wine matching definitely has a place in today’s hospitality offering.  It isn’t something that we feature at Bodega currently as I think you tend to associate it with a higher end style of venue and there is therefore a cost implication.  We do offer Tequila and Mezcal tasting boards at Bodega. These are a great sharing opportunity to explore new flavours with your meal and are very reasonably priced.

I adore South American cuisine, but it may seem exotic to some. What advice would you give to someone with a ‘vanilla palate’ who fears spicy food, but who wants to try and educate themselves?     

Speak to our servers who will be happy to direct you to the less spicy dishes that are available and will help match your preferred flavours.

I’ll be reporting imminently on Bodega Cantina’s launch – keep your eyes peeled right here for more information. In the meantime, why not hop onto social media and stalk your next favourite Derby bar? Check out their Facebook  or Twitter  pages right here.