Traeger on the Menu
With help from Traeger grills, chefs around the world are forging new ways to create culinary experiences and delicious food. Traeger on the Menu highlights restaurants where wood-fired flavor is always on the menu.
Set on Chapel Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Woodsman restaurant brings the history of this centuries-old British town and the wild resources of the English countryside to the forefront of its dining experience. It’s currently featured on the Michelin Guide and, in 2020, was voted top three restaurants in the world from 6k in IHG Group. This authentic British restaurant is one of few places that can offer such a diverse range of sustainably sourced menu items, from deer and mackerel to wild boar and duck. That’s thanks in part to its location on the edge of the Cotswolds—famous for peaceful pastures, winding rivers, and gentle hills—but also due to its ethos, defined by Michelin-star restauranteur and award winning chef Mike Robinson.
The Woodsman honors wild food and traditional British cooking. Sourced and harvested locally, each ingredient pays homage to surrounding lands that have been hunted and foraged for thousands of years. A field-to-fork philosophy comes first. Delicious flavor and a multisensory dining experience follows naturally. Bringing the outdoors in, each dish is cooked using traditional methods with wood, charcoal, and fire.
“The Woodsman’s kitchen is open and fully in the middle of the restaurant,” Mike Robinson explains in this short film. “I want people to experience that [kind of] outdoor cooking. I want them to smell the wood… see the meat cooking and get a flavor for the primal joy of meat, fish, and vegetables cooked simply but beautifully.”
The Woodsman chefs use their Timberline XL and Ranger Grills to infuse every bite with wood-fired flavor. The menus vary depending on the day of the week, and every course changes with the seasons, ensuring a different experience every time. On Sunday, you might sit down to enjoy The Woodsman sharing platter, making your way through wild venison scotch eggs, muntjac lollipops, and cauliflower croquettes. But, ordering À La Carte might have you starting with charred south coast mackerel, biting into fallow deer pave with a side of wood-fired root vegetables, and finishing with northern blue 10-months aged cheese featuring local pear and roasted white chocolate. And you’re in for a feast if you sit down with a party. The Woodsman’s bespoke feasting room offers dishes like suckling pig, whole roasted wild deer, spit-cooked duck, and whole wood-roasted turbot.
“I love the depth of flavor you get using [Traeger Grills]… it’s like an oven, only better,” Mike said in an interview. “We love the flavors of smoke and flame, and we love the theater that it brings, which is critical.”
Mike says that his vision for The Woodsman is to take the seasonality of Britain’s natural lands and “make that into a restaurant.” The “earthy” menu is ever-changing to work with the seasons and offer only the freshest and most sustainably-obtained ingredients. With vegetables from local farmers in the Vale of Evesham, lamb from Lincolnshire, and wild boar from the Forest of Dean, each food source is less than 100 miles from the restaurant with one exception: fresh hand-selected fish and seafood from Cornish day boats. When The Woodsman chefs opt to cook with charcoal, they tap into what’s supplied by a local Oxfordshire artisan who coppices wood to encourage new growth from oak, elder wood, and chestnut tree stumps.
If there’s one ingredient that encapsulates The Woodsman philosophy, it’s Hebridean lamb. As farmer Sophie Arlott says, these sheep “have never been improved by man at all.” With less meat than commercial breeds and so much more flavor, Hebridean lamb are wild and exactly as they were hundreds of years ago. But, Mike’s still a champion for wild venison. He works as a huntsman for The Woodsman, supplying venison from 40,000 acres of British countryside. Mike says that he’s “been a woodsman for an awful lot longer” than he’s been a cook. His only rule as a teenager was to cook what he caught. Now, he brings that same traditional approach to the contemporary British cooking offered at The Woodsman.
While The Woodsman’s menus honor nature, the building itself brings the history of Stratford-upon-Avon—the birthplace of Shakespeare—to light. Dating back to 1500, the building was used to host The Royal Shakespeare’s Club’s annual dinner from as early as 1824. Fast forward to today and you’ll still find a busy crowd at this restaurant with some diners even staying the night next door at Hotel Indigo.
“The inspiration for the woodsman is this: the woodland of England, the ingredients, the flavors,” Mike says. “Then we can bring that all inside into this incredible building in this wonderfully historic town… and cook staggering, earthy, delicious food... for you.”
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