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Home Store with Alistair Hendy - review

We do like to be retro down at the seaside, Drew Smith reports

Written by . Published on September 30th 2012.

Home Store with Alistair Hendy - review

Just in case you happen to be in Hastings, in case it happens to be Saturday or Sunday...Alistair Hendy’s Home Store is the place to be...

The contrast of zippy fresh foods with pre-war cutlery and utilitarian glass jugs of elderflower is smartly made.

There is no real web site, for stylistic reasons one suspects, in that Home Store is an old fashioned hardware Ronnie Barker of a store with hand picked items of retro kitchen and office kit which is a bit of a darling with the style bloggers. From brooms to bottles to scales, some handpicked, some off the production line.  Not dissimilar to Shoreditch’s Labour and Wait – which predates it, but Home Store is bigger and better – the whole house stripped down to its structures filled with inessential paraphernalia – and a working kitchen.

Hendy arrives at this labour of love via the bbc food channel, Sunday Times Style magazine and has been quoted as saying Hastings is Shoreditch by sea. Actually it is more fun than Whitstable which usually picks up that moniker. Hendy's style is very much in the Shoreditch landmark style of Rochelle Canteen but with more fish.

We ate an impeccable lunch al fresco on a school bench in the courtyard - perhaps more of a washyard – everything seasonal each week.

HomefiloPrett yas they come...filo tart with peas

A perfect filo tart with a curdy goat’s cheese, peas and pea shoots;

HomesaladSalad from the garden

Green salad that still tasted of earth, dressed with a slick of Dijon vinaigrette

The restaurant is like the rest of the operation a conceit, but none the worse for it, except it does not try like the rest of the business to be old school which might have been a bad mistake. The contrast of zippy fresh foods with pre-war cutlery and utilitarian glass jugs of elderflower is smartly made.

We had a discussion with the waitress - at some length - on the difference between dressed crab and crab mayonnaise to which the answer was one has its hat on and the other does not – never mind, it all turned out fine...Hendy himself was busy offering another table a whole red mullet just in off the boats which he was keen to cook.

HomefishGastro kitsch?

There was a saucepan of an unusual mish mash which was crab claws, mussels, sweetcorn, sausages and potatoes with a little oniony chilli and dill jus that you sort of ended up eating with your fingers. Memorable perhaps for its eccentricity, chuck-it-all-in mentality,  more than brilliant, fun though, almost gastro kitsch.

Hastings old town is emerging chrysalis like from a period of depression but now has the modern art at Jerwood, festivals for this and that, even a Japanese hotel and cute florist alongsides the antiques and chips on the front...it is proudly still a working beach and you can buy fish straight off the boats. Lobsters £10.

We accidentally witnessed rehearsals for a bicycle ballet – they seem to have been astute at lobbying into lottery and other public funds around here - which was bizarre, surreal even. The town sort of does not want to be Brighton nor twee as Rye but a bit like an adolescent it does not also quite know what it does want to be. It is a schizophrenic town anyway between the old and the new parts, and has its little footnote in history, although the French seem to have long since departed for Shoreditch. Charming perhaps?

I did not pick up the bill but it was the cheap end of London prices and the fish had not gone on the usual merry-go-round to Billingsgate. The drive through south London is a nightmare - take the train and a good book.

Service            2

Atmosphere    5

Food                7


Total                14/20

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Mr foodApril 11th 2013.

Looks tasty.

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