Glorious Twelfth: Where to find the best game and grouse in London

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Grouse season is upon us, and suddenly plus fours and Purdeys are being donned by country folk and city bankers alike, as they once again head out for a day’s shooting. The tradition of the Glorious Twelfth dates back to Victorian times and remains one of the most popular days in the shooting season. For those who prefer to stay comfortably ensconced in London and have their meat plucked and slaughtered for them – thank you very much – 12 August also heralds the return of this uniquely-flavoured, tender meat to restaurant menus.

Grouse – a small, plump game bird unique to the moorlands of the British Isles – is the first to come into season and, therefore, the one you’re most likely to see on menus right now. It is traditionally roasted and served with game chips (crinkly crisp-like slices of deep-fried potato), bread sauce, watercress and fruity jelly. As always though, London’s chefs and restaurants are endlessly creative, with far more game options than grouse alone being added to menus this month. From fiery tandoors to foie gras-filled pies, here’s where to find the best game in London from the Glorious Twelfth onwards.

Aquavit, St James’s Market

Thanks to its traditional associations with meats such as elk and reindeer, Nordic cuisine is well suited to giving British grouse and game a more international flavour. At upscale Scandi restaurant Aquavit, chef Jonas Karlsson has taken on the challenge with his signature tasting menu featuring venison crudo with pickled berries and apple gel, and duck breast with wild wheat, carrot puree and gem lettuce. Complete the experience with one of Aquavit’s signature smörgåsbords to start (our pick is the gin-cured Gravlax with seeded granola, dill mayonnaise and tonic gel). There’s also an extensive wine menu to choose from but shouldn’t you really be sampling from the restaurant’s impressive array of aquavit?

1 Carlton Street, SW1Y 4QQ, visit

Gymkhana, Mayfair

Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana is one of the best places in London to find game year-round thanks to its core game and chops menu. As well as its permanent offering of guineafowl pepper fry with Malabar paratha, and Gilafi quail seekh kebab with mustard and mint chutney, keep your eyes peeled for regularly changing seasonal dishes and tasting menus – which are well worth splashing out on.

42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH, visit

The Cinnamon Club, Westminster

Thanks to its deep, robust flavour, game meat is a brilliant option for the rich, fragrant spices found in classic Indian cooking – so don’t be surprised to see it popping up at lots of fine dining South Asian restaurants. A long-time advocate for serving game throughout the season, acclaimed chef Vivek Singh looks to the ancient hunting traditions found in Indian history to shape his delicious game dishes each year. This August, The Cinnamon Club’s tasting menu will feature a clove-smoked Anjou pigeon with pumpkin and peanuts to start, followed by Tandoori spiced Balmoral Estate venison with black stone flower reduction among its eight courses. Elsewhere, you’ll be able to find the special serving of smoked grouse breast with Achari spices, mustard greens and fenugreek.

30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU, visit

The Game Bird, Mayfair

Unsurprisingly, given its name, this modern British restaurant at the Stafford hotel comes into its own during the shooting season. If you want to eat grouse exactly as Mrs Beeton would have envisaged in the 1800s, this is the place to find it. The restaurant, helmed by Lisa Goodwin-Allen, will honour the occasion in a wonderfully traditional way, serving grouse with game chips, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, pâté en croûte and watercress. The dish will also be available on the restaurant’s menu for the rest of the season alongside the signature The Game Bird duck pie. 

16-18 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ, visit

Ganymede, Belgravia


Last but not least, Ganymede – named after the largest moon of Jupiter and renowned for its British cuisine – will be celebrating the beginning of game season with the launch of its Grouse Supplier Supper Club. Comprising three courses created by chef Oliver Marlowe, expect grouse, pork and pistachio terrine before roast grouse and pastilla leg with game chips for the main event. Don’t fret, several game specials will remain on the menu throughout the season too, ranging from a grouse pate to roast grouse breast with truffle, hispi cabbage and sautéed fois gras. 

139 Ebury Street, SW1W 9QU, visit

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