In the September/October issue of EAUX we met Mark Hougham and Tanya Martin from The Castle Inn at Bungay. After chatting about their recent review in The Sunday Times, we also discussed their other thriving restaurant in the town, the Suffolk Stonehouse.
Having won the award for the Best Independent Pizza Restaurant UK in 2015, the restaurant on St Mary’s Street in Bungay has been going from strength to strength with the owners hoping to open sister restaurants in the not too distant future.
Serving delicious homemade pizzas, as well as offering takeaways, the Suffolk Stonehouse has a garden with a children’s play area and an atmospheric Medieval cellar for private hire. We found out more about the restaurant…
What made you decide to open a pizzeria?
Tanya: Well, we had lived and worked in Italy, but we are not trying to be an Italian restaurant, we’re trying to be a local pizza restaurant. We live in Bungay and realised that there wasn’t anywhere that was filling that need for lower cost meals, where you can have a meal and a drink for under £15.
It was also because we’d had children and although we try to be as child-friendly at The Castle Inn as possible, we understood not everyone would want to take their children out for dinner. At the Suffolk Stonehouse, you can go in there and have a half size pizza and drink for the kids for £5.50 and feed the whole family for £30.
Because we open at 3:30pm you can take them for an early meal, and it’s finger food as well, and it’s quick. Children don’t have a lot of patience to wait for their food to be cooked, but pizza comes within under five minutes so.
Mark: Also we offer a lot of apprenticeships at The Castle, and we want to keep going with them and we wanted to retain our junior chefs. So that was another reason why we opened the Suffolk Stonehouse, we opened the restaurant and put two of our strongest apprentices in there who have now finished their apprenticeship at City College in Norwich, and they are now running the Suffolk Stonehouse for me.
What was the inspiration behind the names of the pizzas?
Tanya: We are very much about locally sourced ingredients, so our toppings are from local suppliers and the pizzas are named after local villages and towns, and they do have something to do with them. Like the Hoxne Pizza has eggs from Hoxne and the Harleston Pizza has chicken that we get from the butchers in Harleston, so we try to connect them.
The Pulhams Pizza is a joke because they made airships in the Pulhams and it was called the Pulham Pigs, and the pizza has three different types of pork products on it; if people are interested in the names we love telling them about it.
Why do you think it’s been so popular?
Tanya: People love pizza! We didn’t realise that there was so much of an appetite for pizza when we opened, but there is!
Mark: We had some confidence in the idea, but we didn’t realise it would be as popular as it has been. I think because it’s a craft experience, and because it’s bread making and there’s that smell of bread making that you get when you walk in the door and you know it’s the real deal.