The Woodbridge pub took home the title of Highest Climber from last year and previously won the Front of House Team of the Year award. It moved up nine places this year, moving former and multiple-time winner the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent to sixth place.
Head chef Dave Wall prides his menu on locally sourced, unfussy, seasonal dishes while owner Brendan Padfield believes the pub reflects his personality.
The Unruly Pig opened in April 2015 and suffered a fire just 12 weeks after opening, forcing it to close for six months while it was repaired.
On being announced as number one, Padfield said: “Apart from the birth of my daughters, this is probably the happiest moment of my life!”
This morning (Tuesday 25 January), he added: "Shock and awe is what I feel. It’s all still sinking in. I woke up and said to myself 'did that really happen?'. And it did of course but to say we were surprised is the understatement of the century.
"This is such a prestigious list not least because it is voted on by our peers. The range and depth of talent and fame in the the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub list is vast. There are so many great and famous names there- seriously talented chefs and operators from up and down the land. To be voted in at number one is therefore a such huge honour and great privilege .
"In 2015, I opened the Unruly Pig, not knowing which way was up. Hospitality was a completely new gig for me but heavens, did I therefore strike lucky meeting Dave Wall and now rest is history thanks to Dave and the wonderful team he has grown. This accolade is proof hospitality can offer a really exciting and rewarding career. Head chefs Dave Wall, Karl Green and restaurant manager TJ Russell and all the Unruly team have made me so justly proud. This a testament to their dedication, loyalty and sheer hard graft. It doesn’t get any better than this.“
The pub is one of five in East Anglia named in this year’s Top 50 – more than ever before, alongside a further 10 in the south west of England, five in the north west, four in the West Midlands, as well as 18 in the south east and London.
The prestigious list was announced yesterday (Monday 24 January) at Escape to Freight Island in Manchester, where presenter and previous Celebrity Masterchef winner Angellica Bell hosted the event with food from chef-patron of the Freemasons at Wiswell in Clitheroe, Lancashire, Steven Smith.
There were 10 new entries this year with Adam Handling’s the Loch & the Tyne in Windsor, Berkshire named Highest New Entry thanks to Handling’s take on the traditional pub menu, showcasing the best of British produce with a big focus on sustainable practices, featuring ingredients from the pub’s own vegetable garden and orchard.
New for 2022, Salle Abé’s the Blue Boar in Westminster, central London was voted One To Watch, with judges lauding the menu as the very best of British pub dining.
Dylans at the Kings Arms in St Albans, Hertfordshire was crowned Front of House Team of the Year and the Princess of Shoreditch in East London, headed up by Great British Menu’s Ruth Hansom earned Newcomer of the Year.
Tough two years
Top 50 Gastropubs publisher Chris Lowe said: “After a tough two years for the hospitality industry, we are thrilled to see such a strong list of contenders this year, including a new number one and several new entrants!
“The Top 50 Gastropubs provides a platform for food-lovers to explore the very best offerings across the UK. We are delighted to host this year’s event in Manchester for the first time, highlighting the range of talent across the UK. I’m incredibly delighted for Brendan and everyone at the Unruly Pig to get the number one spot.”
The list, which is now in its 13th year, ranks the best gastropubs according to votes from more than 400 gastropub owners, food critics and industry experts.
Estrella Damm UK country managed James Healey said: "As the authentic premium beer of Barcelona, Estrella Damm is proud to continue to support the UK's gastropubs.
“This is the seventh year that we have sponsored the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards, an awards ceremony that celebrates high calibre ingredients, culinary excellence and innovation, qualities that are also shared by Estrella Damm.
“We want to extend our congratulations to all 50 gastropubs on the list and hope more pub-goers are lucky enough to experience their talent in 2022.”
The top 10 gastropubs on the list are:
- The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge, Suffolk
- The Parkers Arms, Clitheroe, Lancashire
- The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire
- The Angel at Hetton, Hetton, North Yorkshire
- Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire
- The Sportsman, Whitstable, Kent
- The Guinea Grill, Mayfair, west London
- The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent
- The Mariners, Rock, Cornwall
- The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Visit www.top50gastropubs.com for the full list of the 2022 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs.