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.