Mac and Wild Fitzrovia review: Hearty comfort food and the best of the Highlands
When I first heard about Scottish game restaurant Mac & Wild, I initially dismissed the cuisine as not for me. As a pescatarian, the likes of haggis and venison are off-limits to me. However, after hearing good buzz about it and realising they have menu options for me, I decided to give it a try. A freezing night in February seemed the perfect time for some Scottish fare, with my carnivore boyfriend on hand to sample the meatier options.
Mac & Wild initially started out as a street food stall, bringing Scottish culinary exports to Londoners, before opening a pop-up, and today has two permanent restaurants in the West End and City. The menu prides itself on offering seasonal Scottish produce sourced from hand-picked suppliers in the Highlands. If you’re expecting a Scottish theme restaurant, you’ll be disappointed as there are no ginger wigs or tartan costumes in sight. The Fitzrovia branch has gone for a modern, rustic-inspired look with handmade tables made from old trees, brown leather cushions and black and white landscape photographs of the Highlands. As we sat down to our table, my immediate thought was how cosy and warm it was. A posey of Scottish thistles in an Iru Bru can masquerading as a vase was a quirky touch which made us chuckle.
Having noticed the iconic orange can on our table, I knew I had to try to the Irn Bru Daiquiri as my apéritif when I saw the cocktail menu. Admittedly I had forgotten what Irn Bru tasted like as it had been decades since I last drank it. While I approached the drink with scepticism, I was pleasantly surprised and it went down a treat. Served in a martini glass, it consisted of Ron Matuselum Platino Rum, Irn Bru reduction, Angostora Bitters and Lime – a sweet concoction. Meanwhile, my companion opted for The Forager, billed as a Wild Old Fashioned, made with Glenkinchie 12yo, foraged pine needle tincture, double infused heather honey and finished with barrel-aged bitters, which he said was an interesting twist on his favourite cocktail.
When it came to starters, we both chose fishy ones. As I was anticipating a three-course meal, I decided on a lighter starter – Inverawe Smoked Salmon served with sourdough, whipped butter and lemon. The salmon was so fresh and rich in flavour and served with the bread, it didn’t linger long on my plate. Meanwhile, my boyfriend had my second choice, the brilliantly named Cullen Skink. To the uninitiated, it’s a classic Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potato, onion, chives and dill. He praised the flavour and it’s suitability for a cold winter night. I tried a sip and thought it was delicious – definitely one to order on a return visit.
When it comes to mains, Mac & Wild are famous for their haggis, venison and their award-winning Veni-Moo burger. Diners will be pleased to see on the menu that they detail where their weekly venison and beef comes from, including the names of the farmer, butcher, estate and the shooter. With this in mind, my fellow diner couldn’t resist the Venison Topside Steak 200g with chips. He lauded the quality and taste, proclaiming it was one of the best steaks he had ever eaten in his life – high praise indeed. Keeping to my fish theme, I had the Steamed Mussels in Abroath Smokie Skink (smokies, shallots, white wine and parsley) with some crusty bread to mop it up. I really enjoyed it, but in hindsight, maybe should have ordered the smaller portion as I wasn’t able to finish it all. We clearly had eyes bigger than our heads when ordering and underestimated how filling the food would be. Our mains were accompanied by two sides of ‘dirty’ buttery mash and Truffle Mushroom Mac and Cheese, which while delectable, was probably too much food for just the two of us.
Although feeling stuffed by the end of our mains, we couldn’t resist the Deep-Fried Mars Bar Bites and Ice Cream for a shared dessert. To anyone who hasn’t tried Deep-Fried Mars Bar in general, you don’t know what you’re missing. The batter is light and sweet, and Mars Bars are gooey and smooth when melted. While admittedly not very photogenic or healthy, it tastes pretty heavenly in my opinion regardless. Accompanying our meal, we had glasses of M&W Gascony Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec Beaute du Sud, before finishing our evening with a whisky flight. Mac & Wild’s extensive drinks menu features a wide range of wines, Scottish beers and ales and over 50 whiskies. We tested our taste buds with the ‘3 Shades of Spey’ flight, featuring Singleton Tailfire, Balvenie 12yo Double Wood and Cardhu Cask Reserve.
Overall, we had a brilliant meal. The service was attentive, warm and friendly and our waitress really knew her stuff. The food was high in quality and taste. I particularly liked that M&W were educating you where your food was coming from, which I think is important in this day and age. I would recommend to come prepared with a big appetite as you’ll want to try so much on the menu, particularly on a chilly evening. I know I’m coming back for the Deep-Fried Mars Bar Bites alone!
- Mac & Wild, 65 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7PS. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information and booking, visit the Mac & Wild website.
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