Game for it!

Whether it’s your thing or not, we’re well and truly into game season. It’s that time of year when our roads become a driving hazard to equal the M25, with pheasants, partridges and the ever-present rabbit community all competing for right of way, and the odd deer or muntjac jumping in for good measure too…


You see, game in the Cotswolds is actually as seasonal as strawberries and asparagus. I appreciate it’s not going to tick the vegan or vegetarian boxes but neither should we shy away from it. For meat-eaters, game opens up a whole new world of flavour that reminds us that there is life outside of chicken and beef.

The thing is, if we’re honest, many of us remain a bit dubious or even squeamish about game in this country, mainly because it’s still so comparatively alien to us. For a start, there’s precious little game in our supermarkets so any meat that isn’t chicken, beef, lamb or pork is eyed with an element of suspicion.

It couldn’t be more different in Spain, as I discovered when I was on holiday there with the family this summer. At one of the local restaurants, we ordered a lovely ‘chicken’ and seafood paella, only I don’t speak much Spanish. So, what I thought was ‘chicken’ turned out to be rabbit. It was actually delicious, but I have to confess I was relieved that my youngest daughter doesn’t know the Spanish word for bunny!

The point is, to dismiss game as a food source not only limits the breadth of new and exciting flavours we could be enjoying, it ignores the fact that it is one of our most seasonal and local foods. It’s good for the local economy, your pocket and the planet. So how do we start to embrace game?


The easiest way is at your local butcher where you’ll find an array of meats all freshly prepared and hung depending on what’s in season. It’s also featured heavily on the menus of so many of our great local pubs and restaurants at this time of year – they really embrace game season. As have this month’s Meet the Producer – Wild and Game. With their range of deliciously inventive game products they are helping to make game more accessible for British families.

Getting someone else to prepare your game, whether it’s venison, duck, pheasant or partridge, is without doubt the easiest way to enjoy this most local and seasonal of Cotswold foods. The question is, will you be brave enough to play with game yourself and add it to your autumn menu?

Here are my favourite places for game in the Cotswolds:


Sunday roast pheasant at The Royal Oak at Gretton

One of my favourite locals, The Royal Oak at Gretton always does a cracking Sunday lunch.  Even better that it currently features roast breast of Charlton Abbot’s pheasant on the menu, served with all the usual Sunday trimmings.

The Royal Oak at Gretton


Jolly Nice KFP burger

Jolly Nice Farmshop near Cirencester has a huge following for its burgers but this take on a Kentucky classic is genius. It features pheasant breasts from local shoots that are coated in spicy seasoning and served with coleslaw, baby gem, spicy mayo and buttermilk in a brioche bun.

Jolly Nice Farmshop


Chicken & rabbit terrine at Thyme

Thyme is a fantastic fine dining restaurant in fashionable Southrop that stays true to its agricultural roots. Menus are created using food that is picked that day, in line with the gardener’s harvests, or that is delivered seasonally by local partners.

Thyme Restaurant