Pub scoops top prize at prestigious awards

The Gestingthorpe Pheasant, Church Street, Audley End, Gestingthorpe, CO9 3AU.'Gestingthorpe Pheasant has won Best Food pub 2011 and is celebrating five years of owners Diana and James Donoghue being in charge. ENGANL00120110908154533
The Gestingthorpe Pheasant, Church Street, Audley End, Gestingthorpe, CO9 3AU.'Gestingthorpe Pheasant has won Best Food pub 2011 and is celebrating five years of owners Diana and James Donoghue being in charge. ENGANL00120110908154533
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A traditional pub in the heart of Suffolk’s countryside has been named as the AA Pub of the Year for England.

The team behind The Pheasant in Gestingthorpe, which sits between Halstead and Sudbury, impressed judges with their traditional style menu.

Their win marks the second year in a row that the award has gone to a Suffolk or Essex pub, with the Elveden Inn taking last year’s prize.

Owners James and Diana Donoghue, who took over the establishment in 2006, were thrilled to receive the coveted title.

“It is a great honour and a privilege to win this award,” said James.

“We are very pleased to receive such recognition for all of our hard work.

“It gives us confidence to continue and develop our business further.”

Since 2006, the pub has been transformed with the addition of five en-suite bedrooms, a smoke house and an acre of land.

The land was put to good use when James, a former gardener, turned it into a fruit and vegetable garden, which supplies the kitchen with fresh produce.

It is this fresh produce mixed with the pub’s classic menu that made it stand out to AA inspectors.

The Pheasant has won various titles in the last few years as its reputation continues to grow.

In 2012, it was awarded Pub of the Year by the Essex Fine Food and Drink awards and co-owner James scooped Chef of the Year.

A year later, The Pheasant was named in the BBC’s Good Food Guide.

This year’s AA awards, hosted by Fiona Bruce, were held at Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The winners were judged by industry professionals and inspectors who used their knowledge and expertise to trawl the country’s best pubs, restaurants and hotels.

In each category, the winners were recognised for their success and improvement in the last 12 to 18 months.

The AA’s annual event aimed to celebrate the world of British hospitality by awarding those establishments that have shown a commitment to raising industry standards.