People told me the roasts there were one of the town’s best kept secrets, using words like “proper”, “traditional” and “huge portions”. And it’s almost a shame to share it. But judging by the huge numbers they get there every Sunday, it’s certainly clear there are a lot of folk already in the know.
After two unsuccessful attempts, I finally managed to book a table to see what all the fuss was about, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I ordered at the small open kitchen, run by the family behind Taylor’s Seafood Restaurant across the road. There were four people busy at the stoves, and I was given four choices - roast beef, chicken or pork for £9 each, or lamb for £10 (they also do a meatless wellington if you ask).
I went for the lamb and sat down in the club’s main eating area - decorated with draped black fishing nets, and pictures on the walls showing proud fishermen holding up prize-winning fish, including a 67 lb conger eel as long as the angler holding it.
Huge windows offered stunning views of the 121-year-old club’s fishing boats, and the sea beyond. The place was full and I bathed in the buzzy atmosphere, listening to the cheery hum of chatter and laughter. A nearby diner was talking about Oxo - not a reference to gravy, but Hastings’ famous “Herring King” who used to display his “wonders of the deep” exhibition on a fish cart.
The food came very fast, and I was soon tucking into a huge plate of roast meat with all the trimmings. The generous, thick slices of lamb leg were melt-in-the-mouth tender and packed full of flavour. The Yorkshire pudding was crisp like it should be, and topped with a square of heavily-herbed stuffing. The potatoes were perfectly crunchy and fluffy, and the plate was heaped with cauliflower cheese, carrot batons, cabbage and broccoli, all in a puddle of delicious gravy.
It was hard to see how they could have fitted anything else on the plate - and for the generosity, and quality of the cooking, this is the best value Sunday roast in Hastings that I know of. It was an incredible feast for a tenner. There are other places in the town and beyond that charge far more for far less, but this isn’t an eatery that calls its gravy jus, or bangs on about the provenance of its ingredients. It’s a place that serves a hearty Sunday lunch in a cheery atmosphere, confident in the knowledge that there are few things in the world a plate of roast spuds and gravy won’t fix.
:: Any visitor who is not a guest of a member must buy a £1 day ticket at the kitchen or main bar. Hastings & St Leonards Angling Association, Marine Parade, Hastings TN34 3AG