Last November Jez Smith opened Queens Deli on Queens Road. Here’s what he has to say about his business and the area.
Why a Deli ?
I was brought up on a beef farm in Robertsbridge. I ended up running it and building an on-farm butchery and started curing and smoking things too, so I know about animal husbandry, food and provenance. I moved here a few years ago and there simply wasn’t anywhere in town where you could pick up a really good range of quality deli food. Laura, my partner was brought up around food in her father’s hotel near Cranbrook. She cooks, amongst other things, her father’s well-loved aubergine torte recipe he refined over many years. I guess this pointed towards us establishing something involving food with a focus on quality and flavour.
Why open in Queens Road?
I was aware of things changing. There were already a few new food places in the road like Brewing Brothers at Imperial, the Xochipilli Mexican restaurant and the Oriental Supermarket. I wanted to be part of the regeneration of the area – budget and size-wise it ticked all the boxes.
Did you model it on any particular Deli
Not really. We fell in love with the space and were immediately inspired. We completely gutted it and exposed the wood panelling and some really great original features, plus we recycled a lot of materials where we could. It’s a great space with lots of atmosphere. It literally kind of spoke to us and told us how it should be.
So what do you stock?
There are cheeses, salamis, olive oils, vinegars, sauces, chocolate, bread, pasta, wine and beer, as well as quite a few gluten free products. We serve good coffee too. I would say it is about 60% Italian with the remainder split between Spanish and French and local produce like meat, fish, bread, sauces, syrups and chutneys. We insist on high quality produce with transparency at every level – provenance is paramount.
Are there prepared dishes?
Our speciality is salt beef which we cure ourselves and generally put between bread in a number of ways. We make sausage rolls, terrines and salads and offer plates of cheese and charcuterie too. Our most popular thing is our toasted Reuben sandwich made with salt beef, kraut mayo, mustard, pickle and three types of Italian cheese.
How do you see the Deli developing?
I’d like Queens Deli to be the first choice in Hastings for the kind of stuff we do – real food of the very best quality sold with honesty and transparency. Being a friendly, community hangout is key. We feel that although it’s our business, it’s your shop.
• Queens Deli, 196 Queens Road, Hastings TN34 1RG. Tuesday to Saturday 9am-5pm
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