May contain shot: 8 great restaurants for game in London

The 12th August is when Britain’s game season kicks off, so come join the hunt for London’s best restaurants dishing up partridge, grouse, pheasant, woodcock, and venison.

The Jugged Hare – Much like its 18th century stewed hare namesake, The Jugged Hare is in the vicinity of cult status. When the shooting season’s in full flight, the restaurant comes into its own, offering up smoked and roast red grouse, partridge, pheasant, mallard, venison, teal, woodcock – and, of course, hare – to flocking London punters.

Lyle’s – During previous game seasons, this Shoreditch haunt has put a little twist on their calendar of guest chef menus. Last year, cooks from around the world – many of whom not familiar with British game – plated up Scotland’s finest fare for two nights only. The series – simply called ‘Game’ – is back for 2017 this September.

Native – Makes sense for a former River Cottage chef to open up a place taking full advantage of what British land and sea has to offer – Kentish wood ants included. By heading up a restaurant focusing on game and rare breeds, that’s exactly what chef-patron Ivan Tisdall-Downes has done. It means that, at the right time of year, Neal’s Yard gets a heathy dose of wild hare ragú and South Downs venison.

Rules – One of the more timeless joints in London, Rules has only been knocking around for the past 200-odd years. Historically, pheasant, partridge and the like was shot over the restaurant’s estate in County Durham. But, now that the restaurant goes through 14,000 game birds each season, supplying the kitchen this way became less than viable. Rules now looks to what has become the envy of many a restaurateur – its comprehensive list of trusty suppliers – for the job instead.

Craft London – Craft London’s clay baked duck is so swoon-worthy that Guardian critic Marina O’Loughlin admitted she’d ‘almost’ swim the Thames for it. Last year, Craft swapped duck for whisky and grouse when in season. Though this year’s menus aren’t quite off the press just yet, it’s very likely we’ll see the same this time around. Then again, chef-proprietor Stevie Parle hints at a lot more.

45 Jermyn St. – Even though it’s only been around a couple of years, it’s a bit hard not to mention 45 Jermyn St. when talking about game. Plus, given that the restaurant shares the same building as Fortnum & Mason’s food hall, the kitchen has certainly got their bases covered. Current menu highlights include grouse and foie gras pie and roast grouse with liver parfait on toast, red cabbage puree and ceps.

Mac & Wild – Want a taste of the Scottish Highlands without the faff of leaving London? Please welcome Mac & Wild. The brother and father to founder of the restaurant Andy Waugh run a butchery on Dornoch Firth, supplying venison and game back down to Andy’s restaurants in the capital. It’s a dreamy partnership which brings some of the UK’s best game to London. If you can resist the venison Chateaubriand, try the Veni-moo burger – two patties (one beef, one venison) with cheese, béarnaise and caramelised onions.

Harwood Arms – Brett Graham and co. have been showing Fulham how to elevate the British pub beyond just reliable roasts and behemoth burgers for almost 10 years now. A case in point: Come the latter months of the year, the likes of game faggots, Berkshire game platters, and Muggleswick Estate grouse make their way onto the menu for some proper Medieval-style feasting.

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.