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12th August 2022

A Doubly Delicious Week of Food Accolades for Historic Town Inn

An historic Shepherd Neame pub offering the warmest of welcomes has received two major accolades in the space of a week.

The Stag Inn in Hastings Old Town was awarded its first ever AA Rosette, which celebrates excellence in cooking across the UK, and the very next day the team was also told the pub had been selected for inclusion in the prestigious Good Food Guide.

Licensee Nicole Holt, who has run the 16th century Shepherd Neame inn for the past five years with husband Nick, said: “We knew we had been selected for a visit by a mystery diner for the AA Rosette, but we didn’t know when they would come. We have complete trust in our manager, Tracy, and our small team, and just told them to proceed as normal. Clearly that trust was not misplaced as the inspector commented on our outstanding service.

“The AA don’t leave you on tenterhooks – the mystery diner asked to speak to our Head Chef, Ben Cumberpatch, straight after his meal, and told him ‘You’ve got it!’”

The team will receive a special commemorative plate next month to display in the pub, but only after Ben has eaten a celebratory bacon sandwich off it!

Nicole said: “We have always been passionate about offering great food since taking on the pub but getting Ben to come on board has really given us a leap forward – his enthusiasm and flair and faultless work ethic are a joy.”

The Stag makes all its sauces and pickles and even its own butter, and Ben forages weekly for wild ingredients for his fresh, seasonal dishes. The pub also has a zero waste ambition and uses a Bokashi composter for cooked food waste as well as raw.

Dishes include Kedgeree scotch egg accompanied by curry sauce, fennel bhaji and triple cooked chips; braised lamb shoulder with stuffed courgette flower, lamb faggot, potato terrine, summer cabbage and romesco sauce; and baked cod loin with dill gnocchi, pickled mussels, Nutbourne tomatoes and taramasalata. Food is served from 12.30 to 2.30pm and 6pm to 8.30pm, Thursday to Saturday.

Speaking about how they came to the Stag Inn, Nicole said: “Neither of us had worked in hospitality in any capacity before – I was a producer making TV ads and Nick spent thirty-odd years in the book trade before we took on the pub. Nick and I were both in our fifties, looking for a new direction. When we saw that the Stag was available we thought it was an amazing opportunity and decided to go for it. We are very proud of everything that we have achieved since taking on the pub, and it is wonderful to have the hard work of our team recognised in this way.”

This year the Stag celebrates 20 years of their Tuesday night folk sessions, and Americana sessions on Wednesdays have been running on and off for even longer. An anarchic and popular Monday Quiz; regular gigs and occasional comedy nights make the pub one of Hastings’ most active venues. All the events are free, with visitors being asked for a donation to the Hastings Food Bank.

The pub has the Old Town’s largest pub garden, a wonderful three-tiered sun trap, and a dining room which is available for private hire.

You can find the Stag Inn at 14 All Saints Street, Hastings, TN34 3BJ, call 01424 438791 or visit


About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

Shepherd Neame is not responsible for the content on third party websites.

Press release from Shepherd Neame.

For further information please contact Communications Executive Angela Cole on 01795 542142 or email or visit