Rutland’s “first class” gastropub The Kings Arms Inn in Wing has a great reputation for its “passion for providence”. So those looking to eat local will be glad to hear this “lovely original pub” is serving a special delicacy foraged from the surrounding countryside. Not only does this dish have a tiny carbon footprint, it also has a tiny paw print – because the delicacy in question is grey squirrel.
Whether you think these critters are cute, or just rats with bushy tails, there is no escaping the fact they are responsible for the dwindling numbers of our indigenous red squirrels. It is for this reason that The Kings Arms Inn – supporters of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) – has added a grey squirrel special to its menu.
The RSST has had great success in Scotland and hopes to reintroduce the red squirrel further south, however they need the support of locals to help make this a reality. General manager Kate Goss says: “Grey Squirrels are so invasive to the red squirrel and will kill them out of any area, they also have a big impact on nesting small birds as they steal and eat their eggs. We hope to soon see some Red Squirrels here as the Allerton Project (https://www.gwct.org.uk/allerton/) who would like to try and re-introduce them, but this needs to have some further co-operation from their neighbour in managing their grey squirrels. Our food generally at this time of the year is game heavy (pheasant, partridge, squirrel and venison I am sure soon we will be featuring wild boar again). We are passionate about the providence of our food and supporting amazing local suppliers as we have for the last 15+ years.”
The Kings Arms Inn duo grey squirrel dish: Confit leg and a panko squirrel cake (this is set and shredded meat set with the meat juices and jelly) served with woodland mushroom cream. This can be served with gnocchi or linguine. Chef James Goss also does shredded squirrel meat served in a creamy mushroom sauce tossed in linguine.
Serving grey squirrel is nothing new, although it is still one of the more unusual items you will see on British menus. Some say it tastes like rabbit, but slightly sweeter. Others say it tastes like the ubiquitous chicken. There’s only one way to find out for sure…