I always find that I need to get out of London come Easter time (after a particularly busy few months at work) and always try to book a little minibreak out of the city. Luckily, Blai could take a few days off and so it was that at about noon last Thursday, we arrived in Hastings. I was so looking forward to seeing the sea and what 1066 Country could offer.

First, we had to feed ourselves! I had made a lunch booking at Maggie’s, an award winning fish and chip restaurant located on the Stade, Hasting’s shingle beach from which Europe’s largest beach launched fishing fleet launches each day. The restaurant wasn’t easy to find; we got directions at one of the small museums nearby on Rock-a-Nore Road. To get there, find the Stade end of the miniature railway and you’ll see a sign for Maggie’s on the first floor of a nearby building. It’s not really visible from the Rock-a-Nore Road.

We chose to split two different fishes: a single cod and chips (£6.60) and a haddock and chips (£6.30), which turned out to have two pieces of fish.

Cod and Chips

Haddock and Chips

These were excellent. Seriously, these were quite possibly the best fish and chips I’ve had to date. As you’d expect from a restaurant located on a major fishing beach, the fish was of supreme freshness and quality. And it was beautifully fried with the batter perfectly crisp and the fish perfectly tender and flaky. And the chips weren’t relegated to being the stuff on the side; these chips could also have taken centre stage. Ragged and crisp on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside, these were just perfect chips.

We had mushy peas (£1.20) on the side, which were pretty good.

Mushy Peas

Bookings are essential, even for weekdays! The restaurant was booked fully that Thursday and people were turned away. They open very early in the morning and close after lunch.

Fully Booked

After lunch, we wandered around Hastings Old Town and somehow ended up at the top of the East Hill. From the hill, we watched as the last of the fishing boats came back to the beach. We explored the Stade after and loved looking at the boats, nets and other fishing paraphernalia. It’s no surprise the fish sold in Hastings is so fresh – more of the fishmongers are located about 100 m away from where the boats get pulled up on the shore.

Fishing Boat

Somehow, we also managed to spend one and a half hours walking along the beach and examining the shingle. I love holidays, however short they are.

For dinner, we returned to Rock-a Nore Road to Webbe’s Rock-a-Nore. While I had read good reviews of this restaurant online, the meal was a bit of a let-down. The seafood was all extremely fresh, as I’ve now come to expect from anything along Rock-a-Nore, and was all well cooked too. However, the flavours were very muted; everything was underseasoned. For example, our razor clams with garlic and herb butter didn’t taste of the potent bulb. The squid fritters pictured below were the best of the bunch with a tasty, light and crisp batter; the chillli jam on the side did suffer again from a lack of punch.

Squid Fritters with Chilli Jam

Luckily, desserts were very good; Blai had a dark chocolate and marshmallow mousse and I chose a pear and blackcurrant crumble.

Dark Chocolate and Marshmallow Mousse

Pear and Blackcurrant Crumble

Even after the improvement in the food, we couldn’t get over a feeling of not being wanted there. We had been greeted with a sneer when we entered the restaurant and service was generally missing throughout our meal. Ah well, we were on holiday and didn’t let it get to us and went back to our B&B with light hearts. And how could you not have that holiday feeling when you wake up to this view?

Low Tide

The next morning, we visited the ruins of Hastings Castle on the West Hill …

… before heading back again to Rock-a-Nore road (I love that road!) to a stand that we’d spied the day before.

Tush & Pat's

A Fishermen's Roll

This really made up for the disappointment we’d had over dinner the night before. For £2.50, you get two fillets of dab, dusted in flour and fried in olive oil, slapped into a bun. It’s simple and yet satisfying. We had one each for lunch and then split another one after a more extended walk through Hastings Country Park which we accessed via the East Hill Lift. (We came across lots of wild garlic!)

Going Down

After another stroll through the old town and then an ice cream on the beach, it was time to go home. I wasn’t going to leave empty handed though. Back to Rock-a-Nore Road (Hastings is very walkable!) to visit the Rock-a-Nore Fisheries; I’d heard that they do their own smoking on site. The hot smoked salmon immediately caught my eye and I bought a piece each of the regular, black pepper and hot chilli to take home.

Hot Smoked Salmon

We had a very simple supper when we got home: the salmon, bread and pickles. The salmon was gorgeous – all soft and moist inside – and so much better than any packaged hot smoked fish we’d ever bought at a supermarket. A great way to end our short holiday … but I’m missing all that fresh fish!

All our photos from Hastings can be found in this Flickr photoset.

Rock-a-Nore Road,
Hastings, East Sussex
TN34 3DW

Webbe’s Rock-a-Nore
1 Rock-a-Nore Road
Hastings, East Sussex
TN34 3DW

Tush & Pat’s Fishermen’s Rolls
located at the base of the East Hill Lift.
Rock-a-Nore Road
Hastings, East Sussex

Rock-a-Nore Fisheries
Rock-a-Nore Road
Hastings, East Sussex