Eating a deliciously fresh lemon sole by Sutton harbour and the mouth of the River Plym with the sun shining on the water, was a great way to first experience the much underrated city of Plymouth. It was there that I met Ben Squire, owner of The Boathouse Cafe who told me his own story.
Eighteen years ago when Ben was in his early 20’s he applied to the Prince’s Trust for help in setting up a business. He had always enjoyed the frequent fishing trips he had been on with his father in the area and decided it was something to be shared with others. So armed with £500 and a loan of a further £1000 he invested in a fishing boat; and his new company “Fish ‘N’ Trips” was born. Ben remembers “On that first morning I was really worried if I had done the right thing. Then I saw by the Barbican Dock a queue of 13 people waiting to board. As I only had enough room for 6 passengers, I began to feel a little more confident”
His company now includes, “Plymouth Boat Trips” the 6 main pleasure boats of Plymouth, offering regular hour long guided tours around the harbour, eco cruises, party cruises and a ferry service from Plymouth to the beach of Cawsand in Cornwall.
Then, in 2011, while sitting in a hammock in the old fisherman arches of the quay he thought how that area was not being used to its full potential. The result is “The Boathouse Café” specialising, of course, in seafood that is caught by his day boat, The Southern Star. It means too that passengers on the 3 and 4 hour fishing trips have the option of the staff here filleting and cooking their catch straight off the boat, while they relax with a well-earned glass of wine, beer or a healthy juice.
The Boathouse Cafe is what it says, primarily just a café – with a tad perhaps too chunky sandwiches – and fresh fish specials. My whole lemon sole with capers, butter minted new potatoes , dressed green leaves and home-made tartar sauce was really fresh (£15.95) while my friend had “The Special” the seafood sharing platter, with smoked mackerel, shell on prawns, crab mayonnaise, smoked salmon, cockles and mussels, accompanied with sliced bloomer (£14.95). It was amazing she said and certainly managed not to share! A third companion had the standard fish and chips with mushy peas which was incredibly fresh too. The fish was firm and tender and a nice touch was that it was served on fake newspaper. (£12.95) All the above accompanied with stunning views.