It may sit all alone on the Orford Road, but The Unruly Pig is still one of the most happily situated restaurants we know. The charming market town of Woodbridge is five minutes away; Orford, even more delightful, and its Pump Street Bakery is a 15-minute drive; Rendlesham Forest, of UFO fame, is just down the road; and Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon royal burial site, is less than a mile’s walk. After visiting all that, you’ll need a good meal.
The Unruly Pig is a modern gastropub which, following a fire last year, reopened in January with a new look and a fresh menu. Former lawyer Brendan Padfield is at the helm and spends evenings on the restaurant floor, talking to diners and bolstering a jolly, informal atmosphere. It’s half cosy pub (wood-panelled central bar, Persian rugs and a beamed ceiling) and half modern, chic restaurant, with its charcoal grey walls and terracotta leather banquettes. Waiters are equally smart and show no hesitation with wine recommendations – although there’s also an interesting ‘drivers’ drinks’ list, including a spritz made with damsons from the garden.
Begin with a platter of aforementioned Pump Street Bakery sourdough (we could gnaw away at those chewy crusts all day), homemade breadsticks and a sweet onion dip. Arancini to start was just as it should be – golden, hot and crisp on the outside with a velvety molten filling. It came with a vibrant pea puree that popped in the mouth (a testament to the freshness of ingredients) and a rich poached egg which, while perfectly cooked, made the plate a little too fatty. A good squeeze of lemon would have helped cut through the richness.
Salmon gravadlax, another starter, was firm, fresh and presented beautifully in a spiral pattern by head chef Dave Wall, previously of Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café in Knightsbridge. It came drizzled with a salty soy dressing; an innovative way to serve cured fish. For mains, a whole sea bream (landed at nearby Lowestoft) was charred and smoky – it had been licked by the flames of a charcoal-fired inka grill – with juicy, pearly white firm flesh. On the side was a mash of buttered Jersey royals and brown crab, a rich and creamy combination that proved far more interesting than the usual side of steamed potatoes. Certainly something we’ll attempt to recreate at home.
The Unruly Pig champions British produce, and it’s that ethos that runs through the menu. Try sage and thyme-stuffed rabbit with baked polenta and cauliflower, smoked haddock with chanterelle risotto, or – their bestseller – The Unruly Burger. The meat itself is mature, thick and juicy, and comes with a punchy Roquefort mayonnaise and crisp onion ring, all wedged inside a sweet Pump Street brioche bun. It’s a messy affair (as a burger should be) and comes served with decent hand-cut chips, golden and salty.
A deconstructed Eton mess was another pretty plate, made up of little blobs of soft Italian meringue, sharp rhubarb chunks and hard nuggets of golden honeycomb. Good flavours, if a little tough on our teeth.
With a menu that changes every month, a head chef with a talent for food styling, and a staunch commitment to British produce, The Unruly Pig is a recommended Suffolk spot. And given the beautiful surroundings, you’ve no excuse not to book a table.
Written by Charlotte Morgan, June 2016
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