What? Think Scottish food and you most likely think of haggis, battered Mars Bar, Irn Bru and tatties, but just as we know that there is more to English food than fish and chips and sausage and mash; Mac & Wild, is a Scottish restaurant that will take you on a journey to the Scottish highlands via the finest wild venison, game and seafood.
New? Nope, the first Mac & Wild opened in the autumn of 2016, it was soon followed by a pop-up in Devonshire Square, that went permanent last year.
Where? The original Mac & Wild can be found in Fitxzrovia at 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS, www.macandwild.com
The Look: You won’t find tartan and or images of the Loch Ness, rather they’ve gone down the rustic route with stag heads mounted on the exposed brick walls and butchers’ hooks and deer skins hanging from the ceilings. A felled tree from Andy’s parent’s estate is used to make up the tables and the bar. They’ve managed to get seventy covers into the small restaurant (which is split across two floors), it’s a little on the cosy side upstairs but mirrors and floor to ceiling windows at the front give it more light.
On the Menu: Meat and plenty of it. All the meat is sourced and butchered by founder Andy Waugh’s family’s game butchering business and just so that you know exactly what you’re eating, the menu will tell you just who farmed or shot the meat, on which estate and who butchered it. Small plates make an ideal starter or order a few to accompany your whisky. You’ll find haggis pops, fish bites and Cullen skink. There’s a succinct list of mains, you’ve got a couple of steaks, a vegetarian haggis burger, mussels and the award-winning Veni-Moo burger.
What We Ate: Recently I’ve had scotch eggs on the brain, I put it down to the fact that Phil (Deputy Editor at The Handbook) is a super fan of the breaded snack and all of the talk of it has somehow infiltrated my mind. Which meant as soon as I saw that they had the venison Scotch egg I had to order to it. Venison mixed with black pudding and haggis, all makes for one rich case but the swipe of hot mustard cut through it excellently. For those who want an introduction to haggis then I recommend the haggis pops, for a nugget of that earthy, meaty taste.
Then I did something that I never thought I’d do… I didn’t order the burger, normally my go to, I instead went for the steamed mussels with Arbroath smokie skink and crusty bread. A hearty, big bowl that would be the perfect remedy to a cold day in the Highlands, or in my case a dish to comfort the fact that I had to battle with the trains – it’s much the same thing really. My friend went for the Veni-Moo burger, the award- winning burger made from a beef patty, venison patty, cheese, béarnaise and caramelised onions. When I last visited Mac & Wild, controversially, my burger world wasn’t set on fire, but he proclaimed that it was every bit worthy of the award. The melting meat, mixing with the cheese and béarnaise was a thing of beauty he said. To go with it, we went for dirty buttery mash, but again didn’t have me giddy at its dirtiness, but was good mash.
To finish (yes, we did keep going) it had to be the sticky toffee pudding, which is pimped up with a whisky sauce. Luckily, you won’t come across any sorbets here, just classic puddings.
What We Drank: Whisky, of course, takes a precedence over everything else when it comes to drinks – they’ve got well over 50 to choose from. If you’re a fan then you in luck and if you’re in novice, then here is place to make your first tentative steps into the whisky world. If you like an Old Fashioned, then try The Forager. Glenkinche 12yo, is given a woody, sweet finish with pine needle tincture, double infused heather honey and barrel-aged bitters.
Go With: If you like meat, you like whisky and have a penchant for haggis, then you can’t go wrong with Mac & Wild.
Final Word: If you want to learn more about whisky, haggis, gin or butchery, then Mac & Wild Devonshire Square offers free masterclasses to all its diners. Who is going to look like a Scottish expert when it comes to Burns Night 2019? You are. Potentially.