A Scottish Supper at Mac & Wild:
I’ve been to Mac & Wild for brunch and thoroughly enjoyed the somewhat tongue in cheek menu with square sausages and scooby snacks joining classic brunch dishes for an indulgent roam through Scotland. There’s something of a lack of good Scottish restaurants in London – while for me, Boisdale represents a serious side to Scottish cuisine, Mac & Wild has a far more flippant approach – albeit with excellent produce, sourced from the homeland! I was delighted to be invited back to learn about their summer menu and to try some of the food.
The Fitzrovia branch is quite different to Devonshire Square – spread over two floors in a rambling old building it feels smaller than its sister, though the Manager told me it had the same number of covers. The retro Scottish feel seems more natural to me here, though perhaps that’s because I’m well used to the eclectic buildings of Edinburgh old town.
A balmy summer’s evening, we chose to sit outside, watching the street life of this charming part of London and couldn’t help but notice the Tardis-like ability of Mac & Wild to swallow up passing trade. When we arrived at 6.30 as the restaurant opened, it was quiet. By the time we left there was a queue and not a spare table in sight.
Starting with cocktails, which are all whisky based, I particularly enjoyed my Scottish take on the Old Fashioned – The Forager. It combines Glenkinchie 12-Year-Old whisky, double infused heather honey and barrel-aged bitters and foraged pine leaf tincture.
Like all the cocktails at Mac & Wild, it is premixed in Scotland by Edinburgh based mixologist Luke Leiper, who hand-makes and bottles the drinks in small batches. I was suspicious, but actually, the end result was delicious and having your cocktails pre-mixed does mean that they can be finished beautifully, garnished and then served far more quickly.
My colleague helpfully ordered the starter I felt I should have chosen – the Mac & Wild Scotch Egg, which appeared beautifully cooked with a nicely runny yolk and with a crisp outer shell hiding the well-seasoned venison, black pudding and haggis coating.
His wine pairing was a glass of Bolfan Primus Reisling from Zagorje, Croatia, a biodynamic and organic wine.
The list at Mac & Wild is not long, but quite well formed with a good selection of wines by the glass at a reasonable price (and the pour is generous!). There are more reds on offer than whites – or if you prefer there are flights of whisky on offer starting at £11.50 for ‘three shades of Spey’.
For me, Inverawe smoked salmon served with sourdough, whipped butter and lemon which had a lovely light smoke and was a good start to the meal. It’s the one the Queen eats – so it must be good! It was paired for me with a light fresh Picpoul de Pinet ‘Les Courtelles’ from Langedoc in France. Delicious.
We were drawn into temptation by the venison Chateaubriand, sold by the 100g. It didn’t help that there was one exactly the right size for us on the board (450g) – it’s a special indulgence that I pick whenever I can find a willing victim to share with me.
My colleague ordered the wonderful sounding dirty buttery mash while I ordered chips. And we decided to share a portion of charred leeks. Red Jon (a redcurrant sauce) and Bernaise, completed our mains order.
Now, I would have preferred the Chateaubriand to be cut at the table, but apart from that, it was a fabulous piece of meat. When I can be assured of good venison, I will always choose it over beef. It’s leaner and lower in cholesterol. And I prefer the slightly gamey flavour of a good venison steak. In the case of Mac & Wild, it’s a no brainer as the venison comes largely from their own family supplier, Ardgay Game, a consortium from the North East of Scotland. Our venison was Red Deer, shot by Euan McCall from the Cuillmailly estate. Although the provenance of much of the food is well traced on the Mac & Wild menu – the breed, farm, farmer and butcher of the beef is also listed.
I might just be tempted next time by the Veni-Moo, voted London’s best burger in 2016 and made with a beef patty, a venison patty, cheese, bearnaise, pickles and caramelised onions on a brioche bun. We watched and drooled as the table behind us were served with a full complement of these. Although in fairness some of the plates may have had the Wimbledon special – the Murray Mound Burger – a double beef patty with black pudding, mushroom ketchup and more…
But, I have no regrets. The chateaubriand was a fine thing, perfectly cooked and a real treat, served with a rich, peppery glass of 2014 Sicilian Nero d’Avola Asmodeus . I had been slightly dubious about the idea of charred leeks, but these were soft, sweet and with just enough char to add bite. My fries were good enough for me not to want to share and my companion seemed to feel much the same about his mash.
What was left for us was to try our best to find space so we could sample dessert Tempting as it was to order the selection of Scottish cheeses I was yearning for a sticky toffee pudding, which is served here with a whisky caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream. One portion is definitely enough for two, though it’s so good you might not want to share.
The recommended pairing is a class of Bunnahabhain 12yr old and I enjoyed just enough of this to get a delicious burn.
This is definitely somewhere I’ll return. Perhaps when my brothers are in town – both of them are now firmly ensconced North of the Border and I’d quite like to taunt them with the kind of excellent food they SHOULD be enjoying in Scotland.
Mac & Wild Fitzrovia
65 Great Titchfield St