Top 50 Gastropubs

Karl Green

Cooking 'Britalian' food in the heart of Suffolk

What got you into cooking?

I've never really got on that well at school and I went to go work at the local butcher's/deli where I grew up and just started falling in love with the produce and wondering what else could be done with it.

Also growing up in a house where my dad was an incredible cook, I probably wouldn't tell him that to his face.  My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up with his cooking, which was absolutely incredible. He always used to take us out to Michelin starred restaurants and local restaurants with loads of accolades from a very young age.

I’ve just always been around it and fell in love with it through family and through not getting on with school.

Why did you choose the gastropub route?

After I finished at catering college I sat down and sent an e-mail to all the best places in the area to ask for a job or to go and speak to them and see what they did. I went to a pub that was amazing and I sat down with my first ever head chef, Mark Blake, who had worked for some incredible restaurants in London back in the day, and I completely fell in love with the pub and everything that they did.

I've spent most of my career working in high end gastropubs. It's fantastic food, but in an informal setting, not just stuffy and pretentious.

What does winning number one on the Top 50 Gastropubs list twice mean to you?

Absolutely everything. I was emotional the first time we won it; I think I cried for about a week. The second time…I don't know why, but it just felt even more special. It was incredibly overwhelming and it's one of the greatest privileges. We never take it for granted, put it that way.

Why is being on the list important to you?

We get to meet such incredible people, for instance, we’ve had Adam Handling in the kitchen, him and his team were absolutely amazing. Getting to operate with guys like him, Tom de Keyser from The Hand & Flowers, Steve, from the Freemasons, it really is truly special and I don't think that would have happened without our success on the Gastropubs list.

What makes a great gastropub?

It's the whole experience, even as a chef, I'm not going to sit there and say it's just all about the food. It's absolutely not. I’ve been to so many places where you have some nice food, but you don't have a nice experience.

It's about being a little bit unique, it's very easy to fall in the trap of trying to copy everyone else and trying to be everything for everyone. I mean, when we got kicked off the list we had to sit down and take a real long, hard look at ourselves to say, you know, what are we doing wrong here? And at the time, we were just trying to do too much for everything and for everyone. You just need to look at what you're good at and what sets you apart and makes you unique, that's really important.

It's about the whole experience of the customer, not just the food, the service, the welcome. It's about absolutely everything and making sure that you're always consistent. That's one of the biggest challenges.

What do you enjoy most about your industry?

Just being in the room with people that myself and Dave both look up to. There are so many people in that room who are also in their own right, fantastic operators, and learning from them. We try to visit as many of their places as possible, so interacting with them and to learn as well and see where we can get better. That's one of the one of the great things.

Where’s your favourite place to eat in the UK?

One of my favourite restaurants to eat are one is called Lark in Bury St Edmunds, which is local to us. It’s their first year of opening, so I’ve been trying to support because it's a fantastic little business.

The Freemasons at Wiswell is one of my favourite pubs, it's just so relaxed, it's so comfy and I'd literally just want to sit there all day on a Sunday drinking and having some fantastic food, the atmosphere is absolutely incredible.

The Hand & Flowers as well, I’ve been three or four times and the food is absolutely incredible, but you also get that sense of feeling really special yet it's still a relaxed pub. I'd probably say those three are my favourites.

Who’s your biggest influence?

So, I've met him a couple of times and I've eaten at all his restaurants once or twice…I’d have to say Paul Ainsworth. I’ve never worked for him, and I wish I could, I just love the attention to detail and how they're always striving to get better and achieve more.

I think they definitely should have two stars at his restaurant No.6. I've eaten there several times, and it is absolutely mind blowing how good that place is. All his businesses are so slick and always looking to improve, which is something that we've looked at ourselves and try to adopt a similar.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I wish that I would have gone for further afield and spent some time cooking in and out of the UK. I just really wish I would have gone to Thailand, Australia, Asia to cook outside of my comfort zone. It wouldn’t necessarily have made me a better chef than I am today, but just for that experience.

Key Facts

Number one Gastropub 2022 & 2024 

Britalian cooking style (modern British & Italian)