Leeds restaurant puts squirrel on menu

Some people might regard it as a slightly nutty addition to a restaurant menu.

But one Leeds eaterie is cocking a snook at convention by offering SQUIRREL to its diners.

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Leeds Seventeen, on Nursery Lane in Alwoodley, started serving up the grey squirrel grub earlier this month.

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And head chef Wayne Brimicombe is confident it will scurry its way into the affections of his customers in no time at all.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It's always a bit risky putting something this different on the menu.

"It has, however, been very exciting creating new dishes with what is a flavoursome and versatile meat.

"I am confident it will be a best seller.

"About 90 per cent of the people who have tried it so far have said they enjoyed it."

Wayne says squirrel's distinctively-sweet taste can best be compared to game meats like rabbit and pigeon.

He is currently presenting it skinned and braised, accompanied by wild mushrooms, herbs and other ingredients plucked from the creature's traditional woodland habitat.

Leeds Seventeen, which describes its cuisine as modern British with a French influence, sources the squirrels from a farming site in Northumberland.

Attempts have been made in recent years to reduce the number of grey squirrels in the UK because of the threat they pose to their red cousins.

First introduced in this country from North America in the 19th century, the stronger and more aggressive greys have forced the British reds out of most of their living and feeding grounds.

According to nutrition and diet websites, squirrel is high in vitamin B12 and a good source of iron but high in cholesterol.

As a dish, it gained some popularity during the Second World War in rural areas when, because of rationing, families turned to more readily available – and cheap – sources of food.

Music legend Elvis Presley is also said to have regularly eaten fried squirrel during his poverty-stricken childhood in America.