Red grouse still on menu at The Ritz, despite odd claims to the contrary

An article in The Observer yesterday made a bold claim that red grouse had been removed from the menu at The Ritz, and this was heralded as a ‘victory for environment campaigners’.

The article goes on to claim:

But those hoping to eat the tiny game bird in the gilded Ritz dining room in London will be out of luck this year, as the world-famous hotel has quietly removed it from the menu after an outcry from environmental campaigners.

The Ritz usually supports the Glorious Twelfth, enlisting executive chef John Williams to create a special grouse dish. Last year, it wrote on Instagram: “Every year the Chef creates an exciting new dish, showcasing grouse, honouring the very best of British produce. On the menu this year, for a limited time only, will be Grouse, Celeriac, Juniper and Walnut”.

No such dish has been created this year……’

That’s just simply not true. I downloaded a menu from The Ritz’s website on Tuesday (16th August) and they were advertising Yorkshire Grouse on their weekly lunchtime menu:

The Observer article yesterday continues:

Those calling the hotel to ask if they can dine on grouse in the grand dining room are being discreetly told that they are not serving it because of supply issues‘.

However, this morning the menu is still offering red grouse:

The Observer article doesn’t appear to be the result of sloppy journalism. The journalist responsible, Helena Horton, is a seasoned writer on environmental issues and has clearly done her due diligence checks because she’d asked The Ritz to comment. The last line of her article reads:

The Ritz declined to comment but confirmed that grouse is not currently on the menu‘.

It’s all a bit odd.

Elsewhere in the article, there’s a quote from another high-end London restaurant offering red grouse this year, Corrigans in Mayfair. Chef Richard Corrigan is quoted:

We have some grouse on at the moment. I want to make sure our grouse comes from good places – we don’t take it from the more intensive shoots. I love the whole idea of country pursuits but I am much more aware these days of the cost of intensive grouse operations. I get mine from walked-up shoots, not driven. Large driven shoots – it doesn’t sit easy with me any more“.

At face value this quote sounds very promising indeed. Is the message about the massive environmental damage caused by intensive driven grouse shooting finally getting through? Maybe, but I’m cynical enough to want to learn more about the exact provenance of the grouse on the menu and what due diligence checks Corrigan has undertaken to ensure his grouse are sustainably sourced, as he claims. And then there’s the small matter of whether they’ve been shot with toxic lead ammunition.

A quick look at the Corrigan’s menu reveals that Foie Gras is still on offer. I might be wrong, of course, but I find it hard to believe that a restaurant still prepared to sell a food whose production in the UK would be illegal under animal welfare legislation would be sufficiently concerned about the environmental havoc created by driven grouse shooting to demand sustainably-sourced red grouse.

17 thoughts on “Red grouse still on menu at The Ritz, despite odd claims to the contrary”

  1. I’d love to know what difference chef Richard Corrigan thinks “intensive grouse operations” either large driven shoots or walk up shoots makes to the Grouse. I would suggest there is zero difference to a dead Grouse.
    Hope the dinners break a tooth on a piece of lead shot.

    1. The difference to the grouse is I suppose only do you want to be killed by being shot in the face or by being shot in the arse, so not much to pick from. But my bad taste joke aside, what he likely means is he has cottoned on to the fact that intensive driven grouse shooting rarely occurs without over zealous burning, predator killing and constant raptor persecution to a varying degree , whereas walked-up shooting those elements are reckoned to be much less* so.

      If he is confident that the Estate he gets his from are law abiding, he should be able to openly and proudly say who it is.

      *quite how much less, I don’t know.

  2. Perhaps grouse is now a nod-nod, wink-wink, under-the-counter option. It’s disappointing to see so many of our fellow inhabitants of this planet featuring as menu items, with vegetarian and vegan options an afterthought in tiny print along with the VAT and service charge information.

  3. May not be relevant to this thread but I’d like to know. I’m not a shooter but I am against DGS and a member of the Sodden 570. How much lead shot is there in a single shotgun cartridge (weight and number), what is the usual range of hit to kill a red grouse and what is the spread of the shot at that distance? I know that a huge amount of lead remains in the field to, probably, be mopped up by other wildlife.

    1. one ounce Richard but can be up to 3/8ths more for heavier wildfowling loads , this legally has to be lead free!.

  4. Ah Yorkshire Grouse. there are very few estates in Yorkshire without a recent problem with persecution, so unless their grouse are from Bolton Abbey or Castle Bolton it may be tainted with that particular crime.

  5. Well, as Mark Avery would say, ‘If it’s good enough for a hen harrier, it’s good enough for me.’

    Maybe not at those prices right enough.

  6. Helena is hardly seasoned – let’s be honest she has been duped by LukeS as she has been by others before. Ms Horton has form for taking stories on animal rights/hunting and printing verbatim what Dominic Dyer, ZacG or in this case Luke says. The quote from RSPB was bang on the money and refreshing to see – let’s have grouse on the menu but not linked to unsustainable practices.

    1. I don’t know the background or details of the other articles to which you refer but on this one, Helena contacted The Ritz and was told that grouse was off the menu, so I don’t think your accusation of her being ‘duped’ by animal rights activists is fair.

      Helena is a frequent target of vile online abuse from some within the shooting industry, simply because she reports on issues in this field. I’ve already seen a fair bit of that in response to her article about The Ritz. That also isn’t fair, nor acceptable.

  7. I am sorry, but it is rather rich to question the journalistic integrity or abilities of someone when your *only* evidence contradicting the report is a menu on their website, which could very well have simply not been updated. Did you call them? Did you pop by to peruse their menu? If so, it is not evident by this article. This is a silly story, with no real merit or content. And most of the comments equally so.

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