The British game season begins with a bang on August 12, when the first shots fired on the Glorious Twelfth mark the arrival of red grouse on our plates. Although grouse numbers remain patchy in places, there is a sense of optimism that this year’s warm and dry spring has allowed grouse to breed in good numbers across the moorlands of northern England and Scotland and there will be a harvestable surplus to sell on.
Grouse is the sort of ultra-seasonal, quintessentially British ingredient beloved of chefs. “Grouse to me is the best-tasting game bird,” says Mark Kempson, chef of Kitchen W8 in Kensington. “You can tell by the deep and aromatic flavour of the meat that it truly is a free-range bird, foraging on the spoils of North Yorkshire and Scotland’s purple moors.”
The young, first birds of the season are most highly prized for their sweet, succulent meat and delicate, gamey flavour. The purist approach demands that grouse be served roasted whole, served pink and garnished with game chips, grouse liver pâté, bread sauce and braised red cabbage. Some chefs maintain that the flavour is improved with a couple of days’ ageing, which is why few of the restaurants below will be serving grouse on the Glorious Twelfth itself. Additionally, this year August 12 is a Saturday, so many of the restaurants below won’t have grouse on the menu until the following week.
Don’t wait too long, however: as the season develops, the older birds can become tough and strong-flavoured, which is why grouse has something of a reputation as an acquired taste. Ordering grouse breast rather than a whole bird can be a gentler introduction, or forego the British approach altogether: Kutir, Yaatra and the Cinnamon Club offer grouse vividly seasoned with Indian spicing.
So whether your taste is trad Brit or innovative Indian, here are the best London restaurants serving grouse this autumn. Do check, though, that grouse is on the menu before arriving (and book an early table in case that day’s delivery runs out), and note that the prices below may change according to availability. And when the grouse season is over in December, the arrival of snipe, partridge, pheasant and woodcock means there is nothing to, ahem, grouse about. Let the game begin!
As smart as one would expect from a Belgravia gastropub, Ganymede is nonetheless a welcoming and relatively affordable spot in this most exclusive corner of SW1. On August 17, a “Grouse Supplier Supper Club” will offer a three-course dinner (£75) of grouse, pork and pistachio terrine, roast grouse with all the trimmings and crème brûlée paired with single-malt whiskies from The Dalmore; for the rest of the week, there will be grouse pâté with damson jam and toasted brioche (£14), and roast grouse breast with truffle and Madeira jus, hispi cabbage, sautéed fois gras and pommes sarladaises (£36), also available at sister sites The Hunter’s Moon in South Kensington and The Apollo Arms in Clapham.
£36, from August 13-20
139 Ebury Street, SW1W 9QU, ganymedelondon.co.uk
The Jugged Hare
August also marks the start of the hare season and the namesake dish will be on the menu of this this City pub and dining room by the Barbican which specialises in game, foraged and wild food. Grouse, though, is likely to be the star attraction, brought down from Eggleston Moor in County Durham and served the traditional way with Savoy cabbage, bacon, game chips, liver pâté en croûte, bread sauce and red wine jus. A brace of seven-course game dinners with matching English wines (£125), on August 16 and 23, will offer grouse alongside squirrel croquettes, pike quenelles and loin of Suffolk hare.
£45, from August 16
49 Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SA, thejuggedhare.com
Upmarket Mayfair restaurant Mount St is getting in on the action with a grouse starter dish, as well as a main of the game bird. Both are on the a la carte menu. To start is the grouse broth (£20) with the game served in a consommé made with the excess grouse bones. A light mini milk bread loaf stuffed with venison and duck and glazed with malt extract is served alongside, as well as pork scratchings. Then there’s the traditional roast Yorkshire grouse for two, at £60-a-head. The roast is served with all the trimmings, including game chips, a liver parfait tart with pickled elderberries, watercress, confit legs and grouse jus.
£20 or £60 for 2, available from August 14
41-43 Mount St,W1K 2RX, mountstrestaurant.com
No. Fifty Cheyne
The sort of restaurant to take one’s parents in the hope that they will be sufficiently impressed by their offspring’s good taste to foot the sizeable bill, No. Fifty Cheyne is a Chelsea local well worth the trek on public transport if ma and pa are unwilling to forego the wine list and drive here. The view from the first-floor dining room over the river and Albert Bridge is an attraction, likewise the cooking from the open grill in the livelier ground floor. This year’s grouse dish is as dressed-up as the clientele: roasted grouse will come with a terrine of leg meat, potato and bacon, caramelised pickled plums and wild cep mushroom sauce.
£35, from September 1
50 Cheyne Walk, SW3 5LR, fiftycheyne.com
The Cinnamon Club
Game cooking has an illustrious history on the Indian subcontinent, though hunting has been illegal in India since 1972. Chef Vivek Singh preserves tradition at his smart Westminster restaurant housed, appropriately enough, in a converted library that acts as a custodian for an aspect of Indian cooking that would otherwise be lost. This year Singh is preparing grouse as chargrilled grouse breast with achari spices, tawa mince, fenugreek and mustard greens.
£35, from August 16
The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU, cinnamonclub.com
Part of Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard’s upmarket group of smart restaurants in smart neighbourhoods, Kitchen W8 is not only one of the very few decent European restaurants near Kensington High Street but it also won the Eat Game Award for Best Game Restaurant in 2022. Chef Mark Kempson will be serving roast Yorkshire grouse with ancient grains, smoked bacon and hedgerow jelly; look out later in the autumn for a five-course game menu (£95) in October, as well as partridge, mallard and teal from September 1, and pheasant and woodcock from October 1. At sister restaurant Elystan Street in Chelsea, meanwhile, Howard will be serving roast grouse with potato galettes, celeriac purée, elderberries and bacon (£55) from August 24.
£49, from August 16
11-13 Abingdon Road, W8 6AH, kitchenw8.com
Rohit Ghai’s Chelsea dining room reflects the distinctive path the chef has taken through London restaurant land. First is the location, in an elegant townhouse on a side street near Sloane Square where ringing a doorbell to gain admittance underscores the sense of in-the-know luxury. Then there’s Ghai’s cooking, refined during head-chef roles at bluechip London Indians Gymkhana, Jamavar and Bombay Bustle and displayed with full flair in a dish of tandoori grouse marinated with single-malt whisky, yoghurt and spices. Diners with a taste for game should also investigate a five-course “Hunter’s Expedition” menu (£70) of two-way quail, rabbit vindaloo and green peppercorn venison, from August 22.
£18, from August 12
10 Lincoln Street, SW3 2TS, kutir.co.uk
It might be one of London’s oldest French restaurants but L’Escargot is as much about Gallic art de vivre as gastropod-based gastronomy, which is why British grouse makes an annual appearance on the menu. The first birds will arrive on August 15 to be served as grouse à la anglaise (cooked as one wishes and served on the bone) with pommes gaufrette (aka game chips), bread sauce, fried breadcrumbs and a crouton with liver parfait.
£48, from August 15
48 Greek Street, W1D 4EF, lescargot.co.uk
The Cubitt House Group
The pub, restaurant and hotel group Cubitt House will be serving grouse at a number of its venues, which includes the Barley Mow in Mayfair, Notting Hill’s Princess Royal and the Orange, in Belgravia. Dishes on offer include roast grouse (£45) at the Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia, which is served with pancetta, braised cavolo nero and red wine sauce.
Various locations, cubitthouse.co.uk
45 Jermyn St.
One would expect a restaurant attached to double royal-warrant holder Fortnum & Mason to go big on seasonal British ingredients and so it proves with grouse, which is being served by executive chef Sam White as whole roasted grouse with rowanberry jelly (£52.50). The bird is part of a new “Wild” section of the restaurant menu, launching on August 17, which will also feature wild game and mushroom dumplings (£14.75), and Aynhoe Park venison carpaccio (£17.75): handy for those Londoners who don’t have the luxury of a country estate to use as their larder.
£52.50, from August 17
45 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6DN, 45jermynst.com
The Belgravia and Canary Wharf outposts of Ranald MacDonald’s mini-chain of Scottish restaurants will each be serving Highland grouse with the traditional trimmings this autumn. Expect roast grouse with bread sauce, game chips, liver croutons and gravy, matched to a glass of Château L’Éperon 2018 Bordeaux Supérieur (£48.50); look out, too, for grouse Wellington (£45) at the Canary Wharf restaurant and crown of grouse (£45) in Belgravia. Wherever you eat, expect tartan-clad interiors, live jazz, cigars on a terrace and a whisky bar to make the most of the late licence.
£48.50, including a glass of claret, from August 15
15 Eccleston Street, SW1W 9LX and Cabot Square, E14 4QT, boisdale.co.uk
Chef Amit Bagyal is serving a brace of grouse dishes at modern Indian Yaatra. Rarebit à la grouse will arrive as sourdough topped with shredded grouse and rarebit cheese sauce (£9.50), designed to be eaten as a savoury course before dessert; the main event, though, is star anise-flavoured confit grouse leg (£30), accompanied by a spiced grouse croquette and a rich coconut sauce. The drinks list is almost as much of an attraction as Bagyal’s cooking, with some choice vintage Champagnes and Cognacs, while the location in the former Westminster Fire Station suggests the level of heat to expect from the cooking.
£30, from August 12-26
4 Greycoat Place, SW1P 1SB, yaatrarestaurant.com
Gladwin Brothers group
The empire of the farming and foraging Gladwin brothers extends not only to a Sussex farm but five London restaurants: The Shed in Notting Hill Gate, Rabbit in Chelsea, Sussex in Soho, plus a brace of suburban outposts — The Black Lamb in Wimbledon and The Fat Badger in Richmond. Each feels subtly different according to location, but all will offer the same dish of whole red Yorkshire grouse, doused in brandy jus and accompanied by liver pâté and served with blackberries, trompette mushrooms, crispy game chips and bread sauce. Wash it down with something still or sparkling from the brothers’ other West Sussex family business, Nutbourne Vineyards.
£45, from August 15
Various locations, gladwinbrothers.com
La Poule au Pot and Maggie Jones
This pair of restaurants in Belgravia and Kensington usually stick to different sides of the English Channel in their food offerings, even if each shares a charmingly eccentric design aesthetic of junky farm-shop bric-a-brac and candlelit romance. For the Glorious Twelfth, however, both La Poule au Pot and Maggie Jones are offering roast grouse covered in bacon with a side of pommes purée and garden peas. Later in the game season, La Poule au Pot will offer squab pigeon in September while Maggie Jones will be serving partridge (September) and pheasant (October).
£39.50, from August 14