Set on the seafront and above the local fish auction, Maggie’s originally opened 30 years ago to feed the fishermen when they came ashore with their catch after a hard night at sea, as well as those working on the fish market floor in the early hours of the morning.
Naturally, its mainstay has been fish and it’s developed somewhat of a reputation, so when it changed hands just over a year ago, new owner Lionel Copley was careful not to change too much.
“We gave it a mini makeover but I didn’t dare change too much as I think it would have scared away half the customers,” explains Lionel. “All we’ve done is improve a few things, for example we buy a lot more fish direct off the boats in the morning, so lately we’ve had things like skate, plaice and dabs on the menu. We also make our own tartare sauce now, we’ve added a selection of wines as well and we stay open a few more hours now.”
A new addition to the menu which is proving particularly popular is Hastings Original Lemon Ketchup, a condiment handmade in the same town and which combines zesty lemons with the tang of root ginger and warm spices. Used as an accompaniment with certain fish dishes, it is also available on request as well as to buy in 150g bottles.
Developing a growing following amongst diners, Lionel says: “We’ve had a really positive response since adding it, customers love having something other than ketchup or tartare sauce. It’s delicious with scampi and other fish dishes but equally customers are enjoying it just with chips too. It adds another dimension to the menu without having to change a great deal.
“I also like the fact it’s a really, really old recipe. Even though it looks like something modern, it’s an old traditional, sauce recipe that was recently discovered. It’s got a bit of heritage to it and Maggie’s is a bit of an institution after all.”
With Maggie’s just starting up an events catering side to the business, Lionel is keen to take Hastings Original Lemon Ketchup with him on his travels, adding: “I think it will work really well at events, either in little pots that people can help themselves to or alongside specific dishes. We’re just fine-tuning the menu now, but it’s such an all-rounder it will sit really nicely alongside whatever we decide to do.”
Hastings Ketchup Company 07968 038687 www.hastingsketchup.co.uk