To those unaware, Mac & Wild is a Scottish drinking and dining destination across two London venues. Located a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station, the Devonshire Square branch opened in November 2016 and has fed and watered cityslickers ever since.
Last week, I went along for the launch of two events taking place at Mac & Wild City – a virtual shooting range and the ‘Drams in the Dark’ experience. Having previously visited the Fitzrovia branch for an amazing dinner, I had high hopes for its sister venue. Located in the Georgian enclave of Devonshire Square, Mac & Wild covers two storeys and an outdoor terrace. Our visit coincided with the hottest day of the year at a sweltering 34c so a frozen gin cocktail on arrival was much appreciated.
After sipping a cocktail on the balmy terrace, stepping inside to the cool, air-conditioned enclaves of the building was very alluring. While the main restaurant is located on the ground floor, we headed downstairs to the lower ground to the new whisky bar and virtual shooting range. The vibe is Scottish Highlands-meets-contemporary with wooden beams, leather and fur seating, foliage and over 200 varieties of whisky bottles behind the bar. The team behind Mac & Wild have teamed up whisky expert Blair Bowman to curate the menu and special events, as well as Monkey Shoulder and Glenfiddich. The bar features some interesting twists on whisky servings, such as the Whisky Slushie, of which we enjoyed a few. The slushie was a short, frozen combination of apple and whisky which was both sweet and refreshing. My friend isn’t a big whisky drinker and said she really enjoyed them. As well as plenty of whisky, the bar also offers some of Mac & Wild’s most popular dishes, including Venison Scotch Eggs, Haggis Pops, Mac & Cheese and the Veni-Moo Burger.
Aside from the drinking, one of Mac & Wild’s most unique offerings is its Virtual Shooting Range. The Devonshire Square venue features two lanes equipped with state-of-the-art virtual shooting systems and replica shotguns. As a bona fide city girl and animal lover, the thought of going actual shooting is quite alien to me. However, I was a fan of shooting computer games such as House of the Dead and Duck Hunt as a teenager so was eager to see if my skills had stood up over time. My friend and I had a lot of fun as we tried shooting boars and bears, despite not being too successful, although we watched others fare better. You can choose between clays, rabbits, pheasants, grouse, to deer, boars and bears so the game has quite a variety.
Following a spot of shooting, we headed into a pitch black room for the ‘Drams in the Dark’ experience, hosted by whisky consultant and author Blair Bowman. The dark room setting means your senses are heightened so the aromas and tastes of the whiskies have new depths. Before the tasting begins, you are given an introduction as you settle in and slowly get used to sitting in the darkness. The experience sees you being guided through four or five drams of whisky, along with pairing canapes, which give an added dimension. Among the whiskies we tried were Talisker 10 Years and a Dalmore 12 Years – two very different flavours. Tasting the Talisker along with a bit of fruit cake was a really interesting combination. Despite sitting in a dark room full of strangers, we felt comfortable and really enjoyed the experience. Blair’s knowledge and passion for whisky was really evident and his guidance was useful for both newbies and experienced whisky drinkers.
- Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. The Whisky Bar is open Tues-Sat from 5pm until late, with the Whisky Hour (happy hour) available daily from 5pm-7pm. The Virtual Shooting Range lanes are available for groups of 2-40 people and are bookable between Mon-– Sat from 12pm-11pm.
- Drams In The Dark take place every Friday and Saturday night from 27 July 2018 and last 90 minutes. Tickets: £40 (include pairing canapes). For more information and booking, visit the Mac & Wild website.
Check out Metro Girl’s review of dinner at Mac & Wild Fitzrovia.
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Vietnamese cuisine has steadily been growing in popularity in recent years in London. While Dalston has long been the destination for Viet food lovers, it’s about time the rest of London had some venues offering authentic and tasty Vietnamese cuisine. Last month, a new venue offering Vietnamese street food for breakfast and lunch opened in Broadgate and, this week, I went to check it out. Located in Finsbury Avenue Square, just off Broadgate Circle, Hop is the latest addition to the circle’s revitalised dining hub, which is becoming a huge draw for City workers on their breaks.
Hop is a light and airy venue with some seating should you wish to stay in. I particularly liked the fact the food was well spread out into different sections, not crammed in as you often get in takeaway venues which can make for tricky scenes in the busy lunch rush. Having visited Vietnam myself last year, I can attest the cuisine is incredibly varied depending on what part of the country you’re in. The Hop menu features various dishes from across the country, including noodle soups, protein salads, bun noodle dishes and summer rolls. Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon, is famous for its Bánh Mì- a dish influenced by Vietnam’s former colonists France – which consists of a baguette stuffed with cold cuts, herbs and mayonnaise. When I was in Vietnam, I struggled to find any Bánh Mì suitable for vegetarians or pescatarians so was pleased to see Hop had a spring onion omelette one.
However, on this particular visit, I was feeling in need of a healthy boost so opted for one of the protein salads – eventually plumping for the Prawn and Mango (£4.50). Salads are rarely my first choice of food when eating out, but the ingredients used and the addition of fruit (I’ve always thought more salads should include fruit), swayed me. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed and really enjoyed my dish. The shredded vegetables, prawn and mango were well complemented with the aromatic herbs and Nouc Cham dressing.
Aside from the food, there is also a wide choice of drinks including the famous Vietnamese coffee – which should be particularly handy for busy City workers. Overall, the HOP experience was fast and friendly. The staff were informative and helpful. I found myself initially torn between dishes as they looked so appetising so I will definitely have to go back to try more. If you’re looking for healthy and tasty food on the go, then hop into Hop!
- HOP, 2 Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, City of London, EC2M 2PA. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. Open from 7-11am for breakfast, 11am-4pm for lunch. For more information, visit the HOP website.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of Hop for this review.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.