The Unruly Pig has scooped the title of Best Restaurant at the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018.
This was the third year in a row that Brendan Padfield – owner of the Bromeswell gastropub – faced scrutiny from judges and he was up against The Bildeston Crown, Tuddenham Mill and 1921.
Brendan said: “I can’t tell you how much I’m thrilled. I was very emotional on the night because of a number of things. Firstly because, selfishly, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Then because of our history and the fire…it’s not been an easy ride.
“I couldn’t be more proud of head chef Dave Wall in the kitchen who’s taken this leap of faith. Think of it objectively. He’s worked in some of the best kitchens in the country, and one of the best in East Anglia, then this mad lawyer comes along and says ‘do you want to come and work for me’.”
According to Brendan, judges praised the octopus starter, as well as singling out front of house manager Amy and the rest of the team for being friendly and offering a genuinely warm welcome.
“Aside from our food, that friendly welcome is what we are known for,” said Brendan. “A chef came in for private dining upstairs recently and took me aside and said ‘there were four waves of hello when we arrived’. It’s very simple but it works.”
Head chef Dave Wall revels in creating ‘Britalian’ dishes such as risottos, deep braises and fresh handmade pasta for the menu, using the best local and seasonal ingredients
“We’re not into water baths,” he said. “We do a lot of cooking on the bone, using things like butter, garlic and thyme. It makes a huge difference. It’s not very easy to be honest – it amplifies the difficulty level massively in the kitchen. The customer won’t know that, but they will taste it on the plate.
“My ethos is very much flavour first. It’s always at the forefront of the way we design any dish. There’s no micro cress or powders. With the Instagram generation we’ve got now, so many chefs think about how well something will photograph but getting 10,000 likes doesn’t mean you’ll be serving great food.”
When asked by the EADT about his favourite dishes from his menus so far, Dave instantly picked out the octopus raved about by awards judges.
“Since we’ve put it on it’s not come off the menu,” he said. “At the moment it’s served with nduja and chorizo tortellini. We braise the octopus whole in a stock flavoured with chorizo and paprika, give it a gentle heat, then trim the flubbery part off. We trim it right back then plancha it and make a dressing from the ink and miso, which is not very English or Italian but gives the dish that umami flavour. It’s one of those dishes I’ve not changed that much (not many run more than a couple of months) but I really like it. We’ll always keep octopus in some form on the menu.”
From the current menu Dave recommends the local lamb rump, served over slowly cooked, very thinly rolled out lamb belly with peas, sweetbreads, potato terrine and wild garlic.
And, of course, there’s The Unruly Burger, with its stand-out Roquefort mayonnaise to tuck into too.
“It’s been our biggest seller for a long time and it’s an important part of our offering – I’d say it’s out ‘fish and chips’. Burgers are a huge part of the industry and the British public love them. Come and give it a try.”
Jon Matthhews of Best Restaurant sponsor and co-judge Bidfood said: “In a fiercely competitive category, The Unruly Pig excelled in all the criteria that we, as judges set out. The food was of the highest standard coupled with outstanding customer service. The whole experience defined them as the overall winner. Best Restaurant in Suffolk? Absolutely. Bidfood are proud to sponsor and recognise a thoroughly deserving local business.”