Ayes on the prize, that’s Mac and Wild
13 June, 2019 — By Tom Moggach
Mac and Wild’s venison, mac and cheese and green beans
A TRIP to Mac and Wild is a tonic for the hectic Londoner. Here in the capital, the highlands of Scotland feel like a remote distraction. We prefer to fiddle on our smartphones, guzzling on Uber and Deliveroo.
So there’s a rugged thrill to dining at this busy restaurant in Fitzrovia, surrounded by reminders of how soft we’ve all become.
Along one wall there’s a series of large and exquisite black and white photographic prints.
My favourite shows a hunter leading his horse by the reins, a slaughtered stag strapped to the creature’s back.
In the narrow dining room, butcher’s hooks dangle high above your head; the shelves and tables are roughly hewn from thick planks.
Mac and Wild goes for the jugular with its Scottish pedigree, staking out a reputation for “extreme traceability” in their game, meat and seafood.
On the glass shopfront, the staff write a list of the cuts available that day – from a 460g rib-eye to a kilo of tomahawk steak – crossing out each weight as they are ordered.
The menu opens with a selection of “wee plates”, including haggis pops, smoked salmon and a venison scotch egg.
Interestingly, the chefs have also worked hard on vegetarian and vegan options – including an elaborate veggie haggis burger and imaginative salads.
Mac and Wild has been trading for a few years, capitalising on the founders’ family links with a butchery on the shores of the Kyle of Sutherland.
I first visited their pop-up in Charlotte Street. Since then, they have opened this branch in Great Titchfield Street and a large site in the City, complete with a virtual shooting range.
The meat and game, as you would expect, is excellent quality. (We shared a medium rare rib-eye with sides of salsa verde and green peppercorn sauce.)
Their Venimoo Burger, layered with venison and beef patties, has scooped several awards.
But for me our evening was memorable for the sassy service and offbeat dishes.
The addictive haggis pops, crumbed and deep-fried, are dipped in an intense and fruity sauce called Red Jon.
Their vegan counterparts, made with mashed potato, were fabulous – served with a tangle of salty pink dulse seaweed and a fiery green chutney.
The salads are well put together – ours a mix of grains, string beans, avocado and steamed broccoli laced with almonds, seeds and a hot Scotch bonnet sauce.
They pour around 100 whiskies by the dram, although we opted for a spicy Côtes du Rhône.
I left the restaurant googling prices for the new Caledonian Express – the revamped sleeper trains that whizz from Euston up to Fort William.
The founders of Mac and Wild understand these urban flights of fancy. They now offer wild cooking experiences in the Highlands where you sleep in converted Land Rovers.
Sensibly, these are parked on the edge – rather than deep inside – the forest. And a short stroll from the loos.
Mac and Wild
65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W
020 7637 0510