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Tonyfinch

Wilton's

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No better place in London for a couple of old fuds like Macrosan and me to meet up to grouse and eat grouse than the long standing Wilton's on Jermyn St. Slightly less touristy than Rules, very similar to Green's nearby, it plays on all that old fashioned, middle aged, clubby British atmosphere to perfection. You either like that sort of thing or you don't. I'm a sucker for it but I have to say I don't think there was anyone there under forty the other night.

Its formal (gentlemen must wear a "coat"-ie jacket, an American tourist giveaway there) and its expensive. Two whisky sours at the bar cost £17.50-which I thought was pushing it a bit. No wines under £20 on the list as far as I could see. And given that the grouse cost £28.50 each, charging £3.50 for each side order of veg. seemed bordering on the greedy (although a celeriac puree was delicious).

But the grouse itself was a revelation to me. I'd only had it twice before, both at home, and had never got on with its high gaminess. I don't know whether its because I'm higher and gamier than I was, or if these were less high and gamey, but it was one of those food moments when you saw what everybody else who loves grouse is talking about. Roasted pink, it was rich, strong, juicy, lush. chocolatey-marvellous meat which had length like a good wine. What was also great was that the taste changes depending which part of the bird you're eating, or whether you're sucking the bones or crunching the carcass. Although it was perfectly OK I actually found the Bread Sauce accompaniement unneccessary, but the bacon provided a nice salty crispy note.

So although it is expensive, those food moments when you see the light are pretty rare for me these days, so it was definitely worth it. I'm not sure where you could get Roast Grouse much cheaper in a restaurant anyway. If anyone knows please post.

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Rules have it for a relative bargin of £19.95. Website says that "all Game Birds are classically served with Bread Sauce, Breadcrumbs, Game Chips & Game Jus" and if you can stomach grouse between 3-5pm Monday to Thursday, you get a starter included in the price. No price for side orders, I'd want something green with all that I think.

website

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At Wilton's the "game chips" were just crisps. Macrosan might differ but I'm sure they were just plain crisps out of a packet.

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Tony,

Having seen Macrosan fiendishly demolishing and gnawing an entire bowl of winged creatures (Quails) at New Tayyabs earlier this week; I am suprised that you made it out of Wiltons with both your arms intact.

B

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yes, the sight of Macrosan, sitting with his knife and fork held upright on the table, chanting "I want Quail, I want Quail" was a sight to behold.

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If you can stomach the eponymous host at Chez Max, they do some pretty decent game at fair prices.

Incidentally, I can't :wink:


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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If you can stomach the eponymous host at Chez Max, they do some pretty decent game at fair prices.

Why, do you have to eat him as well? :sad:

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In London, its what I would expect. I've seen it on the Ivy's menu for a similar sum in the past. On the other hand, Shuan Hill puts it on his £33.00 for 3 courses menu with no supplement.

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If you can stomach the eponymous host at Chez Max, they do some pretty decent game at fair prices.

Why, do you have to eat him as well? :sad:

Please god, no!! :biggrin:


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Can one of you locals please inform me of the distinction between "high" and "gamey"?

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One possible definition is that gamey is the natural flavour of the meat and of meat that is hung for a short period, high is when the meat is left to hang so long it begins to rot.

Here is quite a good article from chef and game expert Ian McAndrew that touches on the subject but gives no definitive answer to your question, if indeed there is one : game on.

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My local London butcher has Grouse for £7.50. However I'm sure they're smaller that the ones we had at Wilton's.

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Gamey, means that it tastes like 'wild', not farmed meat. The difference is clear in comparison of both types of the same species: rabbit, pigeon and duck, for example. Differences in diet and lifestyle imbue the meat with differing qualities. A gamey flavour being one; and tough, lean, athletic flesh, rich in connective tissue being another. The relative toughness of 'wild' animals is ameliorated by the enzymatic and microbial processes wrought by hanging the beast for several days before consumption. In Britain, meat used to be overhung, although with commercially available game this is rarely the case these days due to economic concerns over lengthy storage and changing consumer tastes. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of countrymen who will hang a pheasant by its neck and not eat it until the body drops off under its own weight. Overhung game birds share similar compounds as are found in strong aged cheeses, the likes of which make one sweat on the crown of the head and the cheekbones, and are very much an acquired taste.

The necessity of hanging game birds makes a total mockery of any restaurant that races to serve grouse on or about the 'Glorious Twelfth', as the flesh of a bird shot on that date is thouroughly inedible until the Twenty-First at least. Indeed, the slick city boys seen wolfing down their grouse at two-hundred pounds a bird, on the TV news of the 12 of August are willingly unwitting participants in their own public humiliation.

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The grouse was the best game bird I've had, and I will certainly go to Wilton's again for game. As Tony says, it is certainly over-priced, and I think even too fuddy for him and me. So you understand we are talking serious fuddiness, folks :wacko:

While I was waiting at the bar, I observed the maitre d' fitting a Frenchman (one of a group of six) with a jacket. The m d' tried three on the poor man before he was satisfied with the result. Oh boy, you should have seen the one he liked :raz:

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LML [Overhung game birds share similar compounds as are found in strong aged cheeses, the likes of which make one sweat on the crown of the head and the cheekbones, and are very much an acquired taste.]

I eat a lot of game birds but, here in Canada, we tend not to age them very long, certainly not long enough to achieve the effect you describe. So it came as quite a surprise when, a few years back at a dinner at Raco de Con Fabes, I tried a bite of my wife's (at the time she was still a girlfriend) perdiz and my tongue and lips went numb! It was similar to taking a bite of cabrales or roquefort or one of the less "creamy" blues--very strong and very ripe. I have not had perdiz anywhere else in Spain but further research has given me the impression that a well aged bird is typical. While my wife quite enjoyed the dish it wasn't for me. Btw, everything else we had for dinner was spectacular.

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We accept a certain "ripeness" in game birds that we would reject in domestic fowl. But there are tricks of the trade to rescue foodstuffs which are ready to flee the kitchen under their own power. Years ago Mary and I bought a duck on the Grimsby market. Her parents in those far-off days did not own a fridge, but their neighbor across the street, Mrs. Broxholme, was happy to give us space until our return to London.

Mary’s father warned us that nothing of Mrs. Broxholme’s actually worked, but we were young and foolish. We collected the duck – ominously warm – from the fridge and put it in on the back seat of the Mini. Halfway home the smell began to reach us and we transferred it to the boot.

Thirty-five years ago, newly-married couples in straightened circumstances didn’t lightly throw away a duck, and so Mary went to our local butcher on Bute Street, South Kensington, and asked his advice. (In those days, you didn’t have to be a rich Arab to live in South Kensington.)

“No problem,” he said breezily. “Give it a good bath in washing-up liquid and then rinse it well – you don’t want bubbles in the sauce!” We took his advice and it worked perfectly. The duck was magnificent, with an opulence born of – shall we say? – maturity. We didn’t ask if this was in fact his own usual practice.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Had excellent Grouse at J Sheeke last night, £29.75 so still not a give away. Despiet The assurances to the contrary, it sure seemed like it had been hung for longer than a mexican in a texas jail :biggrin:


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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