Britain has always boasted a rich hunting heritage – one filled with tales of Kings chasing stags through swathes of ancient forests and across brooding heather moors – and each year the game season is eagerly awaited by British gastronomes who hunger after the sublime earthy flavours of partridge and grouse or rich succulent venison. But you no longer need to brave the harsh autumn weather to enjoy these prize seasonal delicacies – with today’s trend for field-to-fork cuisine, game dishes are having a bit of a moment here in the UK so we’ve picked out the best places to enjoy the best of great British game.
The Yorke Arms, Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale, North Yorkshire
It’s on the Yorkshire Moors that the game season is kicked-off with grouse on the Glorious Twelfth so it should come as no surprise that game plays a starring role on the menus of this Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms. Headed by the acclaimed female chef Frances Atkins, it’s worth visiting for their local roast grouse alone which comes complete with bread sauce, bramble and a delectable heather scented jus. However make sure to find time to explore the stunning Nidderdale Valley countryside to get the full hit of Yorkshire’s rural splendour.
The Bourne Valley Inn, St Mary Bourne, Hampshire
The Hampshire countryside is peppered with beautiful country inns, but we love this little gem of a place for its cosy farmhouse feel (they provide marshmallows for you to toast on their open fire) and their wonderful new Friday Game Nights. Head Chef and Landlord Ryan knows a thing or two about flavour and every Friday you can tuck into different plates of delicious local game such as pot roast Candover Park partridge or wild boar and apple sausages with smoked mash potato before falling asleep in their cottage-style rooms.
For those looking for a luxurious slice of countryside in the capital, The Punchbowl in Mayfair has been a quiet beacon of great British food since 1750. After a summer of grand refurbishments, it re-opened again on 20th October with a creative new menu of rich seasonal flavours that aims to bring its London patrons the best game from across the country. Try the starter of New Forest game terrine with Bayonne ham, foie gras and fig or the pine smoked Yorkshire venison loin with candied cocoa nibs and juniper berry jus – you won’t be disappointed.
Chef and Landlord Simon Davis was among the first to serve grouse at his beautiful country inn on 12th August when he raced back from the Yorkshire Moors with his brace of game birds which he had shot himself. It’s this passion for fresh local game and talent for flavour combinations that shine through on his menus – which change almost daily here. We recommend treating yourself to a festive feast with their Christmas menu offerings of local partridge breast dressed in Burgundy prunes and confit Creedy Carver duck leg with hazelnut and orange butter.
Last but not least, London’s oldest restaurant is a Bastian of timeless British cuisine and specialise in classic game cookery – they even own an estate in the High Pennines where staff are trained in everything game. Each year the new season is celebrated in style here and wild game takes pride of place on its menus. Try their roast crown of wild duck with creamed Savoy cabbage and quince or roast leg of hare with braised shoulder, prunes and chestnuts – with an array of dishes available you’ll be able to indulge your wildest game cravings within their hallowed dining room.
Nicole Harley is Editor at The Epicurean.