It’s a long journey from the Scottish Highlands to the streets of Soho, in more ways than one. But Scotsman Andy Waugh made it seem like a quick trip up the street with Mac & Wild, a restaurant dedicated to showcasing Scottish game and whiskey that opened on Great Titchfield Street last year.
Adapting the essence of those rolling green hills for a tiny inner-city restaurant has its challenges, though critics and foodies have been universal in their praise of the first permanent venture for the Wild Game Company, which started off selling prime game cuts from Andy’s father’s farm outside Inverness at markets. So when a much larger space in Spitalfields was identified as the site for a three-month winter pop-up, Andy and his partners gave themselves carte blanche to go a little, well, wild.
The outcome is a subterranean whiskey bar below the restaurant and a ‘hunting room’ where diners can shoot for their supper on screen complete with live foliage and tam o’ shanters in the most elaborate game of Buckhunter you have ever played. It will simultaneously horrify PETA and delight every City boy within a one-mile radius which, in these parts, is likely to keep Mac & Wild booked up well beyond its three-month tenure.
The restaurant has also benefitted from a little extra space. “We always wanted to do more with Great Titchfield Street but we were so limited by space – now the kitchen [at Spitalfields] is about the same size as front of house in Soho,” Andy says.
Seafood, in the form of langoustines from Kirkwell and halibut from the Isle of Gigha, is the major addition to the menu, sitting comfortably alongside the dishes that made Andy’s tartan army famous – a mouthwateringly tender venison chateaubriand and the Venimoo, named London’s Best Burger at the National Burger Awards earlier this year.
Begin the meal with a couple of ‘wee plates’ – venison terrine, smoked salmon and peppery haggis pops that make for insanely good munching – and make sure mains are accompanied by at least a couple of moorish sides; a bowl of crispy baked potatoes with onion puree in particular.
We stuck with wine for the meal (a silky sweet Californian Pinot Noir, deliciously named The Crusher) leaving plenty of room to try out the extensive list of single malts and blends from every region.
The bar staff can also whip you up one of Mac & Wild’s nattily named whiskey cocktails and will try not to roll their eyes upon hearing your attempt to request a ‘Ginger Laddie’ (sherry, ginger, sweet vermouth, bitters and orange peel) with a thick Scottish accent. Order by the bottle if you’re planning on heading into the hunting room – it has been known to get pretty wild in there.
Mac & Wild City, 9a Devonshire Square EC2M 4YN