What's your game?

Two Borders restaurants and an Ayrshire inn have been named the best game restaurants in Scotland in the first ever What's Your Game? competition

, sponsored by Braehead Foods and Highland Game. The competition, which was judged by members of the Scottish Small Game Group and the independent body EatScotland, drew entries from pubs, restaurants, hotels and inns across the country.

The judges were interested both in the use of seasonal game on the menu and the understanding among staff of its provenance. The Lodge at Carfraemill near Lauder won first prize, impressing judges with the variety of game on menus year-round. The judges' decision was confirmed on visiting the establishment in December, when the dishes on offer included wild rabbit terrine, roast pheasant from a neighbouring shoot and wild venison, about which the staff displayed a definitive knowledge of the produce and the provenance of the game.

Judge Ross Montague, of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: "We were really impressed by the fact that diners had such a variety of local game dishes to choose from. Diners are increasingly interested in their food and where it comes from, and it's always good to introduce them to new tastes and types of meat, which is, after all, the most wild, natural and free-range meat available. The Lodge won us over for its dedicated and innovative use of game from the surrounding countryside."

The head chef, sous chef and restaurant manager from The Lodge will enjoy the first prize of a three-day shooting and stalking experience in Perthshire with two of Gordon Ramsay's head chefs.

The Lodge's head chef Mary Shaw said: "I am delighted that we have won this excellent accolade. I firmly believe using seasonal game is produce at its very best and it gives variety and a healthy option to our clientele. At Carfraemill we are committed to working with the front-of-house team to promote game dishes, thereby enhancing the experience and enjoyment for the client. It is just great to be recognised for doing something we are so passionate about doing well."

The Waterside Inn in Ayr won the second prize for its variety of game and renowned Borders pub, the Black Bull, also in Lauder, won third prize. The judges were initially attracted by The Black Bull's knowledge and enthusiasm for game, evident in the 'game plan' submitted with its entry form, and subsequently by the regular promotion of game on its special menus. The head chefs from each of the establishments will join the winners on their shooting and stalking days in January.

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