From pop up to permanent:
New flavours at The Prince Albert
By Steven Short
Wife and husband cooking team Helen and Richard Groves recently took over the cooking at Prince Albert, following a successful series of pops-ups during lockdown. “I’ve known [owners] Matt and his wife Trisala for a while,” says Helen. “They asked us to do some pop ups for them over winter. We did fine dining, three-course meals, which were a sell-out. When No Bones, who were cooking at the pub more regularly, decided they wanted to try something new, Matt asked us if we’d like to take the job on.”
Helen and Richard launched their new menus in late April. “It’s all vegan, and it always will be,” says Helen. “We’re doing small plates, quirky interesting food at reasonable prices.” Evening dishes that the chef modestly describes as “sort of pub grub,” include deep-fried ‘cashembert’, a nutty take on the wine bar classic (served with sourdough toast and red onion marmalade), wild mushroom and tarragon pâté, sausage roll with coriander chilli jam, and ‘TPA fries’ with vegan pastrami, Russian dressing, cheese, and sauerkraut. Highlights of the weekend brunch menu, meanwhile, include a breakfast burrito stuffed with chipotle beans, roasted peppers and the usual burrito toppings (with an invitation to ‘make hotter’ if you fancy), waffles, with a choice of sweet or savoury toppings, and a ‘Massive Breakfast sandwich’ complete with veggie bacon, sausage, onions, mushroom, cheese, lettuce and tomato relish.
Seen that face before?
Locals might recognise Helen and Richard from the Bathing Hut Café in West St Leonards, which they have been running for the past three years, offering a takeaway service right through lockdown. Prior moving to Hastings six years ago – “I’ve been coming here my whole life and really wanted to live by the sea” – Helen’s cookery background includes training in a French restaurant, studying catering and working in hotels. She then moved into selling rare books, which she loved, but her heart has always been in the kitchen. She decided over 15 years ago “I just didn’t want to work for anyone else,” and has been running foodie businesses ever since including the café at the Forestry Commission’s Bedgebury Pinetum which was “a big business with more than 20 staff”. Richard, meanwhile, comes from a 25-year scientific and executive career in the pharmaceutical research and development and data management industries. He moved down from Oxford four years ago to be with Helen – it’s quite a change of careers!
By the time you read this, Helen and Richard hope to have recruited new team members to help them juggle the café and the pub, which are both getting much busier as lockdowns ease. Of the demands of the twin enterprises, Helen laughs, “I just love food. I love cooking it and I love cooking it for other people.” While the café will continue to serve the meat-free Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired food that it’s known for, Helen plans to evolve the menus at the Prince Albert as the summer progresses. “We’d like to do something like ‘international Thursday’ type of thing, so maybe have a Japanese week, then an Indian week or a Swedish week…”
Helen and Richard are currently cooking at the Prince Albert on Thursday and Friday evenings, all-day Saturday and Sunday brunch. Walk-ins are welcome, bookings are accepted for tables of four or more.
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