Ina Yulo Stuve enjoys the best of the British game season at this fine dining restaurant.
After a most eventful summer, it’s no surprise that many of us are welcoming the transition to autumn with open arm – cashmere scarves, cable knit jumpers, a mug of hot chocolate and, of course, a hearty seasonal meal to warm the stomach. The British Isles are blessed with stunning landscapes that encourage a flourishing population of wild fauna and the 12th of August, also known as The Glorious Twelfth, annually marks the opening of shooting season for grouse.
When this time comes, those in the know flock to Wiltons, London’s top restaurant for game meat. “Having been at the forefront of London restaurants, cooking and preparing game for such a long time, people have come to rely on us delivering top quality game and dishes that they understand and want to eat,” says Wiltons head chef Daniel Kent. “We have also tried to make it more accessible and relevant to people’s diets, as many are ‘flexitarians’ and are conscious of their food choices but still want to try new food. That, and we have always looked forward to welcoming our guests, ‘home’,” he adds.
On a crisp evening in mid-August I find myself in the gorgeous Jimmy Marks room at Wiltons, named after the restaurant’s former head oysterman (Wiltons holds six Royal Warrants, earning their first as a purveyor of oysters to Queen Victoria). As we sip our Wiltons Cuvée NV Champagne, we hear wonderful tales about the characters who are all part of the Wiltons story: from Olaf Hambro, who purchased the restaurant by requesting it be added onto his bill when the former owner decided she wanted out after a bomb exploded nearby, to regular diner Sir Winston Churchill (his great-grand daughter, who was also one of Princess Diana’s bridesmaids, was responsible for painting some of the décor in the Jimmy Marks room).
Our conversation soon shifts to game and how difficult it was for London restaurants to source grouse in time for the Glorious Twelfth this year due to labour shortages in the supply chain. Despite the challenges, the team at Wiltons persevered and though some other not-to-be-named dining destinations were left grouse-less on the Twelfth, Wiltons diners happily enjoyed their famous roast grouse in the same way we did, served with the traditional bread sauce, brioche crumb, and redcurrant jelly. On the evening we visited, the grouse was paired with a 2019 Syrah from Domaine François Merlin in the northern Rhône, which stood up to the gaminess of dish and accentuated its fruity elements.
Though consommé features on Wiltons’ regular a la carte menu, our starter for the evening was given a seasonal touch with venison instead of beef, creating a richer dish with delightful umami flavours emphasised by king oyster mushrooms and black truffles. The dish is paired with a 2018 Chardonnay from Domaine Sylvain Langoureau in Burgundy, which matches the depth of the dish with some buttery notes. We ended our meal with a beautiful seasonal pudding that had a mix of textures, and tart and sweet berries topped with clotted cream.
Wiltons is celebrating its 280th birthday this year, but chef Kent is adamant that the restaurant maintains a balance of sticking with tradition whilst also focussing on sustainability. “As we source our game from the British Isles, we are reducing carbon emissions and using a product that is less intensively reared, this is a major contributor to lowering greenhouse emissions, food waste, and resources. Moving away from beef or chicken to game, when in season, would help reduce the demand for intensively farmed meat,” explains Kent.
“It may, perhaps, bring about more demand and more waste, but perhaps we would see a more balanced approach with flexitarianism being the best approach to reducing our carbon footprint and maintaining a healthier diet.” So whether you’d like to celebrate the arrival of the autumn months or simply want to bask in a temple of British culinary greatness, make your way to Wiltons to enjoy the best of the British game season whilst it lasts.
Address: 55 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6LX
Phone: 020 7629 9955
Sign up for one of our free newsletters to receive the latest on travel, high-end fashion and ultimate luxury straight from LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine.
LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine is operated and run by Luxury Lifestyle Media Group Limited.