Whites in Hastings: Restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 10:35 26 September 2017
More by luck than judgement, Duncan Hall bagged a table at one of Hastings' favourite family-run Old Town restaurants
Judging by the number of reservation-less diners staff had to turn away on a Thursday night before the summer holidays, Hastings has taken Whites to its heart.
The family-run restaurant, which marks its decade in Hastings in December, is located in a Grade II-listed building in the heart of the Old Town. Inside the décor is a mix of the vintage and the modern. The walls are laden with accessible contemporary images and the odd cheeky slogan, interspersed with chalk blackboards giving the day’s specials. The seating – which can take up to 54 inside and a further 30 in the pedestrianised road outside – is a mix of reclaimed church pews and solid matching table and chair sets, with some tables so big that two groups of diners can share without getting in each other’s way. The service is efficient but very friendly.
Having bagged one of the last available spaces for the evening service I explored the seafood side of Whites’ varied menu – still the most popular element according to owner Alex White. Watching a stream of sizzling blue steaks being whisked by, to be finished off at the table by customers using a hot rock (from £15.95), there was a pang that I might have made a wrong choice. But that was soon dispelled by my salt and pepper squid starter (£6.75). No rubbery imposters these – the squid was served with a light dusting of flour both in tender rings and little tentacles, topped off with a delicious aioli dip. The accompanying salad was sharp and peppery, soaked in a delicious vinegary dressing.
It was a great introduction to my main course – the South Coast Scallops (£14.95). Any fear that four scallops served on the half shell would not be filling enough were dispelled by the mountain of rustic bread alongside. The scallops were big and meaty, some served with their juicy orange coral still attached. Each was swimming in a pool of garlicky herb-filled butter which soaked beautifully into the bread, while the same salad as the starter provided some continuity between courses.
Seafood ranges from the Hastings Old Town Favourite (fish and chips) at £12.95 to delectable seafood platters which look built to share from £17. “We try to get as much as we can locally,” says Alex. “Our supplier is based in Uckfield and buys from local fish markets.” The hot rock method of cooking steak was added to the menu four months ago to offer something a little different, although diners can still get their steak finished off in the kitchen for a slightly higher price. “Everyone is different when it comes to their personal taste,” says Alex. “One man’s medium might be overdone for me, or underdone for you. There is a theatre to it too as it comes out sizzling and smoking away. And we don’t get any complaints about the way the meat is cooked!”
Somehow I found room for a lemon and ginger cheesecake dessert (£6.50) from an ever-changing selection on the blackboard. Served with a scoop of ice cream, the dish provided a perfect coda to a real taste of the south coast, in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Need to know
• Open 11.30am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm Mon to Fri, 11.30am to 10pm Sat/Sun
• Whites Seafood and Snack Bar, 44-45 George Street, Old Town, Hastings, TN34 3EA; 01424 719846; whitesbar.co.uk