An independent restaurant in the Hertfordshire market town of Bishop's Stortford has put a horse burger on its menu, starting today, in reaction to the horse meat scandal dominating the headlines.
Josh Gale, head chef of Host restaurant, said that it wasn't horse meat consumers ought to be worried about, but other ingredients in cheap meat products such as e-numbers, the ingredients making up the rusk, and the quality of the beef.
"We are just a little local restaurant but we have always prided ourselves on being local and using sustainable fish and using local meats - we just do it because we think it is right. Horse seemed to fit into that. Why are we throwing away meat and then expecting our beef to cost £3 a kilo?" Gale said.
The horse burger will join the restaurant's £7.50 lunch menu, served with chunky chips, onion rings, salad and horseradish. The price puts Host head-to-head with some of its local chain store rivals including the likes of Cafe Rouge and Gale said the horse burger would attract consumers' attention in a much more competitive marketplace. "Stortford has got a lot more restaurants in it recently and a lot of them are chains and a lot of them are independents. As independents we have just tried much, much harder," he said.
The meat has been sourced through exotic meat specialist Kezie, which Host had already used for a themed South Africa night, when it served springbok. However finding a supplier had not been easy because the internet was awash with stories about the horse meat scandal. Gale said he hoped eventually that he would be able to find a supplier more local to the Bishop's Stortford area.
As to the expected demand for the unusual, and controversial lunch option, Gale said: "I would have thought we will have ten people come in and eat it, another ten people come in because they have read about it online who just want to see what is going on, and perhaps a few people who throw paint at the windows!"