A CAERLEON chef isn't horsing around with the introduction of horsemeat on his menu.

The Stuffed Dormouse Restaurant at The Roman Lodge Hotel, Caerleon, is now serving horsemeat steak on its menu.

This comes after food producers and supermarkets across the UK have withdrawn products when tests found items that were supposed to contain beef actually had up to 100 per cent horsemeat.

The scandal hit the headlines following a study that showed horse DNA in beef burgers sold in British supermarkets.

The UK Food Standards agency admitted that horsemeat containing the painkiller Bute could have been in the food chain for a long time.

A Newport catering firm is at the centre of the latest horsemeat scandal after the meat was found being supplied to Newport and Caerphilly councils.

Now an Abergavenny butcher, Vin Sullivan, who specialises in exotic meats and fresh fish, is supplying the horsemeat to the restaurant for £2.20 to £2.40 per steak.

Head chef Gareth Lee, has been a chef for 22 years and works with his business partner, Simone Asen.

Just two weeks ago they started to sell horsemeat on their menu and have been overwhelmed with the public's response.

Mr Lee said: "The feedback we have had since selling the horsemeat has been very good, but quite a lot of customers who haven't had it before ask to see me and find out what it tastes like.

"I would say it tastes like beef but it is full of flavour, and it’s healthier than beef, as it is much leaner.

"It has a different texture, it's more like venison, and you can't overcook it, so is has to be medium-rare.

"But if the customers don't like it, they don't have to pay for it."

The 'good quality' rump steaks are from horses specifically farmed for meat, and with the recent horse-meat scandal, Mr Lee is quick to defend the meat that has caused such controversy.

He added: "People don't understand what is going on in the papers.

"The scandal is not eating horse it’s the fact that people thought they were eating beef.

"At the end of the day, it is an animal that has been raised for meat."

"The restaurants name, The Stuffed Dormouse, comes from Roman times where only the rich could afford to eat high-quality meat, and the peasants had to eat food like stuffed dormice.

"We wanted to give people to opportunity to try different and exotic meats without the expensive price, and with two courses for £10 you can’t go wrong really."

Horsemeat was a pleasant surprise

REPORTER Sophie Brownson went along to The Stuffed Dormouse to give the horse steaks a try.

When I followed chef, Garth Lee into the kitchen and saw the little brown package labelled 'horsemeat', my heart sank. I was really going to do this.

He cooked the medium rare steak and served it alongside a pomegranate salad and chips.

The presentation was lovely, however I was unsure about the steak.

As I took the first bite all I could imagine was a little ponies face looking up at me from my fork, but I manned up and took the plunge.

And I was pleasantly surprised - it was actually nice Although chewy, it was tender and lean, and tasted no different from any other steak.

I could see why it was the healthier, and increasingly more popular option.

Mr Lee explained: "People can be put off by the emotive aspect.

"They see horses as pets, but in places such as South America and France it is perfectly normal.

"Everyone has eaten horse at some point in their lives."

Now I can say I have.