As the name suggests, the cafe sits next to the Stade Open Space - an area opened in 2011 as a focal point for events in the town. The heavy-glass cafe offers stunning views of the fishing quarter and nearby streets, and is a popular destination for families and friends to enjoy its delicious, home-cooked food.
They recently introduced a special brunch menu at weekends, and I go on a Sunday to find the place packed with diners tucking into fried breakfasts, rarebits, and mushroom-filled croissants. I’d eaten breakfast hours before (which is very rare for me on a Sunday), so skip the brunch menu and order one of their burgers I’d heard so much about. Many places in Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Rye specialise in burgers, and many could learn a thing or two from this cheery cafe. I sit down and relax in a very Christmassy atmosphere helped by the large fir tree draped in yellow fairy lights, and to a lesser extent by Do They Know It’s Christmas? playing on the sound system.
My cheeseburger (£6.75) arrives and it’s one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had. The patty - made by local butchers P A Fisher & Son - is still a little pink in the middle as it should be. And there is an explosion of mayonnaise, burger relish, melted cheese and meat juice as I take my first bite. I’m not normally a big fan of brioche, but the bun made by Judges Bakery in the High Street, Hastings, is delicious. It’s fluffy inside as only the freshest bread can be. The relish is both sweet and sour and made with fresh tomatoes. It’s a wonderful combination of flavours. My side order of skin-on fries (£2.95) are perfectly crisp, golden and greaseless. They are the size of thick French fries, which I think is the right shape for a burger meal, never having been that impressed by the Jenga-style whoppers many chefs go for.
I watch as a steady stream of delicious-looking brunch dishes are carried from the kitchen. Louise Kelleher, 48, who runs the business with her husband Stephen, 51, says their most popular dishes at weekends are the Weekender Breakfast (£12.50), a massive fry-up with toast and preserves, and the Seaside Scramble (£8.95) - creamy scrambled eggs with locally smoked salmon from Rock A Nore Fisheries just up the road. Their 10-hour slow-cooked beef (or five-bean) chilli served on a bed of fries, topped with jalapenos, cheddar and guacamole (£9.95) is also a big hit.
The couple employ more than 20 staff across their two branches; they also run [email protected] the park cafe - a lovely venue in the middle of Alexandra Park in Hastings. Louise says: “We’ve been in business since 2004 and our ethos was always to try and provide good, home-cooked, high quality food at a price that’s achievable to everybody in Hastings. We’ve started a brunch menu now at weekends and that’s been extremely popular, so we’re really happy with how that’s going.”
[email protected] the Stade, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings, TN34 3FJ
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