A Right Boar

There are few products with a more misleading label than wild boar. Here in the UK, at least, the name refers to the breed, not the lifestyle. In truth, we’re talking about a life of free-ranging rather than free-roaming. And even then the name isn’t definitive, as some wild boar are hybrids of true boar and the domesticated pig. Wild? They’re possibly livid.

All of which makes our access to a supply of genuinely wild boar (the result of farmed animals escaping some years back) from the nearby Forest of Dean very exciting indeed. As our menu – liberally scattered with rabbit, game birds and venison (the latter shot as well as butchered by chefs James and Nick) attests – we’re big fans of animals that live a more natural existence. It’s not just about animal welfare. It also makes sense to use meat from animals that have fed naturally and exercised well. The difference is almost always evident in the structure of the muscles and nature of the fat when we butcher, in the way that the meat behaves when we cook it, and – of course – in the eating.

Yet even we were surprised just how much this wild boar differs from the usual farmed variety. Wild meats have a reputation for being tougher and more, well, gamey-tasting than their farmed counterparts. Yet here, the good life in the Forest of Dean has led to animals with a surprisingly tender and full-yet-delicate (almost floral) flavour.

You can try it for yourself in the restaurant right now. And if you’re a true fan of game, there may just be time to book in for our ABT (Anything But Turkey) special. We’ll be serving a 10-course tasting menu from Wednesday 21st December through to Friday 23rd, with £2 from every menu going to the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. And yes, we really are serving a grey squirrel course…

game liver cone
home made charcuterie
pigeon, salsify ‘branch’, wood blewitts
rabbit ravioli
squirrel kiev
venison shoulder
wild boar
cheeses from the south-west
sloe gin jelly
forest floor

Stay tuned also for further news from the R&D kitchen on a cool new dish for 2012 featuring this magnificent animal.

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