The Best Foodie Columnist James Close | Living North

We Talk To Our Foodie Favourite, James Close


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Living North’s foodie columnist James Close on Japanese-style snacks, quail and a special Christmas dinner

Regular readers of this column may remember that a few months ago I mentioned a new, additional item on the menu – a katsu sando – based on the delicious Japanese snack which has now gained worldwide appeal.

Our version of it was only available if guests ordered in advance, because the prime wagyu beef we use came straight from Japan. The response to that delicious mouthful – cooked at exactly 50 degrees to soften the fat, covered in panko breadcrumbs and served with a tomato sauce on homemade white bread – soon became a firm favourite and it made me realise that wagyu beef was something that we should really be adding to the menu on a more regular basis, which is why, as part of our tasting menu, you can now enjoy wagyu A5 gunma.

It may sound like a very odd name for a dish but in fact this pays homage to this superb meat’s provenance – the area of Japan that it comes from. We’ve been though many different kinds of wagyu before settling on this particular one, which really is mouth-wateringly delicious and forms one of the highlights of our tasting menu.

We poach it very gently in beef fat before cooking it on a Konro grill (a Japanese barbecue) and serving it with smoked aubergine, Petrossian caviar and Amalfi lemon zest, creating a really special dish which showcases some of the finest ingredients in the world.

It’s not the only new addition to the menu as – for the first time in around two years – we have decided to feature quail. This is a dish in two parts and it’s fantastic to see our diners’ reaction when it’s served.

The quail arrives first, served with anchovies, globe artichokes and a few drops of black olive oil. Then it’s on to part two – the quail egg, white truffle and a croque madame, the classic cheese and ham sandwich with the egg on top. This is a dish with a bit of theatre, and has the element of surprise which should be part of the dining experience.

I like to use proteins like quail, lamb and squab pigeon because we know we get them of a consistent quality, and that of course is exactly as it has to be to keep up to two-Michelin star standards.

That’s not to say however that our dishes aren’t constantly changing and evolving – they really are a moveable feast! I’m constantly looking at different ways to work with our ingredients, and changes that we can make to existing favourites – that’s the challenge of being a chef.

Development is a huge part of our work here at The Raby Hunt – and hopefully what keeps us at the top of our game.


By the time you read this, we will be getting into the holiday spirit. We close the restaurant over the festive season but there’s an opportunity to join us and sample Christmas Raby Hunt style.


On Sunday 22nd December we will be hosting our last service of 2019, with a lunch which will completely evoke the time of year with a menu inspired by Christmas. 

If you would like to join us, please contact the restaurant on 01325 374237 or email


Published in: January 2020

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