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. Read the rest of this entry
The Sanderson has long been one of the coolest hotels in London. Situated in Fitzrovia, the boutique hotel is situated in a 1950s building and features one restaurant and two bars. I had previously visited their lovely courtyard for alfresco cocktails and really liked the place. However, recently, I finally got round to booking a table in their restaurant for a girlie dinner.
On the night in question, all four of our party ended up arriving unusually late due to dreadful transport issues due a large outdoors event going on in the West End. However, the staff were incredibly patient and friendly. We were shown to a well-placed table on the higher level of the dining room, with views out to the courtyard, which was full of twinkling lights.
On the night in question we opted for a set menu, starting with a signature Sanderson cocktail (Beefeater Gin, Lychee Juice, Melon Liquer, Lime and Aperol) to welcome us. I was initially unsure as I’m not mad about melon or lychee, but the gin and lime flavours came through enough and I found it refreshing and light. Being situated right next to the hotel’s Long Bar, their mixologists were close by for whatever you fancied during the meal.
The menu contains a mix of British cuisine with a European influence and is seasonal. To start with, I opted for the Spiced Parsnip Soup. The flavour was subtle and is a good gentle start to the three-courses.
For my mains, I accidentally ordered a dish in a rush, not realising there was meat included and they happily switched it for another one (I’m a pescatarian). I had opted for the Roasted Salmon with white Bean and Chorizo Cassoulet.
Finally to finish, I decided on the Dandelion and Burdock Popping Candy Ice Cream – a rather more creative and fun dessert than I am used to seeing on the menu. It was quite an unusual combination, with the flavour more subtle than I expected, but I liked it. I also tried my friend’s Coconut and Mango Posset with Lime Zest Crisp, which was fruity and refreshing.
Overall, the meal was good. I would like to go back when there are different set menu options. The best part of the evening was probably the staff, they were incredibly friendly, attentive and accommodating – particularly given my order mistake and our tardiness.
- The Restaurant at Sanderson, Sanderson London, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3NG. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road, ?. For more information, visit the Sanderson London website.
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I always loved the 1920s and 1930s as a stunning era for fashion, design and architecture. So with the release of the recent Great Gatsby movie, I was in the mood for an evening at a venues which fit the bill for a flapper’s night out. Arranging to meet a girl pal for some mid-week post-work drinks and a gossip in central London, we decided to meet at Oxford Circus and check out The Lucky Pig. While there are nearer tube stations, it’s really such a short walk to Clipstone Street – which is just off Great Portland Street. Located just under Bolshover House on the junction with Bolshover Street, you are greeted by a colourful mural with the name of the bar, inviting you downstairs to the basement below. While the cocktail bar is located in a basement, it is far from dinghy. Some skylights, coupled with twinkling chandeliers and retro lampshades, give the place just enough light. Although it hasn’t been there for years, the faded and peeling wallpaper, old posters and vintage furniture make you feel like you’ve walked into a hidden gem that’s always been there.
My friend and I arrived on a Tuesday evening, but found most of the tables were reserved or taken so pulled up a stool at the bar. Happy hour was on giving two-for-one cocktails so we spent quite some time trying to decide between the wide range of original cocktails. We started off being a bit decadent than usual – well it did fit the theme of the bar! – by ordering a Prosecco-based mixture. We started with the Isadora Belle – a concoction of Belvedere Raspberry Vodka, framboise, pineapple juice and Prosecco, served in a martini glass and was delicious. We also tried a more light, refreshing Grey Goose Le Fizz – Grey Goose Vodka, lime, elderflower and soda. Although on the night in question there was quiet background music enabling us to talk, the bar does host live music and DJs too. Overall, the staff were friendly and the drinks went down very easily. I loved the venue’s faded-style grandeur which gave it a lot more atmosphere and style than so many other bars in the area. I will definitely be back.
- Lucky Pig, 5 Clipstone St, Fitzrovia, W1W 6BB. Nearest stations: Great Portland Street or Regent’s Street. Open Tues-Sat. For more information and detailed opening times and menus, visit The Lucky Pig website.
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It’s a dominant symbol on the London skyline, yet many city dwellers don’t quite have the same affection for the BT Tower as other lofty landmarks. Maybe this is because most of us haven’t had the opportunity to have a shared history with the building because it’s been closed to the public for over three decades. Many visitors to the capital may be surprised to know the building has been hovering over the streets of Fitzrovia since the 1960s and is a Grade II-listed monument.
Originally commissioned by the GPO (General Post Office) and designed by Eric Bedford and GR Yeats, the tower’s main function was to carry telecommunication signals from London to across the country. Although construction began before the Millbank Tower (387ft), the latter was erected quicker and was briefly the tallest building in London until the BT Tower was completed in 1964. At 581ft high, it reigned supreme as the tallest in London until Tower 42 was built in the City of London in 1980. Opened by the then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson in October 1965, the £2.5million BT Tower included 37 floors and two elevators. Seven months after the official opening, the building was open to the public with quite a variety of amusements to keep them occupied in May 1966.
One such attraction was the Top of the Tower revolving restaurant. When I was a child growing up in London in the Eighties, I remember my parents talking about the restaurant on the 34th floor, which was sadly closed in 1980 due to terrorism fears. In 1971, an IRA bomb exploded in the men’s toilets at the restaurant. I remember for years not realising it had actually closed and in my young girl’s mind, fantasising about hanging on to my table for dear life as the restaurant whizzed around at speed. Actually it was one gentle revolution every 22 minutes. Also towards the top of the building were public viewing galleries and a gift shop. However, a year after Top of the Tower closed, public access was also halted.
Of course, while telecommunications have changed drastically over the past 30 years, the BT Tower is still used by TV and satellite companies, as well as to monitor air quality. Since 2009, a 360 degree LED display has been wrapped around the Tower at the 36th and 37th floors projecting messages and the BT logo.
Although we are spoiled for choice when it comes to seeing London from a height – most recently with The Shard and The Orbit at the Olympic Park, I believe there would be demand and many willing, paying customers who would love the chance to eat in the BT Tower’s revolving restaurant again. While this appears unlikely to happen at the moment, who knows what the future will hold…
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