Unruly Pig reopens in time for Christmas
- Credit: Su Anderson
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis speaks to Brendan Padfield about how The Unruly Pig in Bromeswell has been revived after a fire in the summer.
It has been a year of unexpected highs and lows for Brendan Padfield, owner of The Unruly Pig at Bromeswell.
Having opened what he said was his dream business with great fanfare early in 2015, the rug was pulled from under the former solicitor within just 12 weeks as a fire devastated a large part of the building.
He could never have imagined, in those dark times back in June, that five and a half months later he would be standing in the bar again, admiring his new “baby”.
Where others may have cashed in their chips and given up, Brendan was determined to see The Unruly Pig succeed - especially as a Good Food Guide listing, ranking it as one of the best eateries in the east, came in just after the fire. A testament, within those short first three months, that the formula he’d concocted with head chef Dave Wall and the rest of the team was really working.
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Brendan is, he admits, a walking cliché, talking about his foray into the restaurant business. “How many bankers and lawyers say they want to open a restaurant? It’s so great to get out of bed with a skip in your step.”
The restaurateur was amazed by the support he received in the wake of the fire, which saw the Milsom group take on a number of his staff for the interim, and many messages of solidarity from local people.
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“What’s been invigorating and humbling,” he said, “is the client base. I’ve got so many regular customers and the support of those customers and businesses was really encouraging.”
The new Unruly Pig can be described as a re-imagined vision. In some ways, a better vision.
Kitchen staff are over the moon with their new all-singing all-dancing kitchen, with head chef Dave loving the new space created by the removal of a chimney breast.
A porch area has been knocked through and the bar moved, enhancing and extending the bar area. And the arty, cool vibe has been retained.
Think burnt orange banquettes, walls bursting with interest from Brendan’s own art collection, French industrial lighting, bright blue wall panelling – and it all works so well.
The new private dining suite, reduced to a few bricks by the fire, has been replicated perfectly. And its adjoining dining space is enhanced by ceiling beams, revealed in the aftermath of the devastation, when the plaster began to sag from water damage.
Upstairs a further private dining room with its own toilet facilities, is being created.
“Everyone’s raving about the improved picture it is- from a cosiness and an informal aspect,” Brendan smiles. “Everyone says it’s very very different.”
And onto the most important part. Food. Brendan’s being very tongue-in-cheek when he describes the menu as Britalian. He’s spent a lot of time in Italy. It’s the food that sings to him. While you won’t be finding pizza or lasagne on the menu any time soon, he and Dave say that a gentle Italian influence has woven its way through the dishes. It’s all about seasonality, bringing the best out of ingredients on the doorstep.
Everything is homemade. The handmade gnocchi, rolled cavatelli and agnolotti pasta being examples.
Italians tend to have a much more relaxed approach to eating – taking their time, enjoying it, savouring it, sipping wine. That’s what Brendan wants his restaurant to be. Somewhere inviting and approachable. Somewhere you can pop in regularly with the family to celebrate great food and drink. “If I had a wish and aim, I’d like us to be the best,” he reveals.
The Unruly Pig’s menu is varied and includes grazing food, snacks, a £10 plate of the day, a very reasonable set menu and separate menus for children and vegetarians. There is, in essence, something for everyone.
Whether you want to rock up for one of Dave’s gooey cheese melts (cheddar, Parmesan, Roquefort, onion confit and béchamel) at just over a fiver, want to take advantage of the value dish of the day, or are treating your other half to a slap-up steak supper, all bases are covered.
Brendan just loves the ballotine of chicken and the Venetian custard fritters currently gracing the menu. And, despite not being over keen on smoked haddock, he’s really fallen for the smoked haddock, leek and chanterelle risotto Dave’s created.
There are exciting options for veggies in a hearty aubergine and halloumi burger and the recent hit of baked potato with Vacherin and cauliflower.
But at the heart of the menu is the smoking furnace that is the Inka grill. Bought at great expense, and a piece of kit rarely seen outside of London, this beast brings char and soul to many of the meat and fish dishes.
Dave says although he uses lean meat, because burgers are cooked and sealed so quickly on the Inka, the juice oozes out of them.
Same goes for the steaks.
Fish can be cooked in a couple of minutes or so with Brendan saying: “The comments on the sea bream have been extraordinary. The skin is charred but not bitter. And with the black olive hollandaise and crispy capers –it’s heaven. Moist and translucent.”
Now that’s real fast food.
Each of the puddings brings together ingredients that just work. There’s no cheffy mucking about here. A chocolate delice sees a slither of crisp biscuit, with a whisper of fresh mint, being topped with a shiny ganache and served with silky Baileys ice cream.
There’s an unctuous salted caramel and chocolate tart.
And that Italian influence is there, with a rice pudding being served with pine nuts and blood orange.
No good meal is complete without a glass of interesting wine. And this is something Brendan has considered. A lot.
The wine list from the original Unruly Pig has had a makeover. Of course, the owner didn’t mind trying out many of the vintages before they made the cut. There do have to be some perks after all.
He has worked mainly with Hallgarten Druitt, supplementing the list with bottles from Liberty and also from Wines Fantastic in Felixstowe, with rave reviews for their 2010 Tour de Grenet.
It was imperative, says Brendan, not to use “wine speak”, causing diners to become lost in translation. The list is clear cut and user-friendly.
Instead of fine wines there are ‘dream wines’. And all glasses on the standard wine list can be served in 50ml measures, which is brilliant for drivers who want a little sip with their dinner.
Homemade cordials and mocktails will also appeal to drivers.
But, if you aren’t behind the wheel, I’m told the Bad Piggy rhubarb negroni, is not to be missed. Just make sure you have someone with you to prop you up.
The Unruly Pig serves food every day except Monday and will be open on New Year’s Eve with it’s regular menu.
The Unruly Pig is offering EADT readers 50% off food from January 1 to 31. The offer applies to bookings only (quote EADT Offer when calling) and it cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.