The new Mac & Wild on Great Titchfield Street isn’t one of those new fad restaurants with a superficial theme in a desperate attempt to have it’s five seconds of fame with the London hipster foodies. Instead it serves up the highlands with integrity, consideration and a little bit of humour – exactly the same reasons why we have such affection for the Scots. It’s the first establishment of The Wild Game Co., responsible for making venison big on the London street food scene over the last few years. In fact all of the meat and seafood at Mac & Wild is sourced from the Scottish highlands, from neighbouring estates to the director, Andy Waugh’s, family butchery business in Ardgay, who supplies all of the venison. It’s no wonder Mac & Wild’s tag line is “Gun to Plate”.
The menu was encouragingly short and a handful of items stood out from the crowd: Haggis Pops & Whiskey jon, Venison tartare, Veni-Moo(voted London’s best burger this year)comprising of a beef patty and a venison patty, and of course Irn-Bru. Seeing as it was lunchtime we opted for the (Venison) Steak Frites and the Grilled Cauliflower, due to it’s recent surge in popularity along with a side of the Dirty Buttery Mash with some bone marrow. The potential concern of the absence of a steak knife was soon quelled when the venison arrived ready sliced, with it’s golden outer-shell housing a thin perimeter of grey, which quickly turned into a deep shade of pink, delicious and tender meat. The bérnaise sauce was faultless – a perfectly balanced buttery tartness with fresh tarragon. The cauliflower steak could have virtually passed for a steak on appearance, with it’s browned edges, swimming in it’s glossy juices and sweet, nutty and al dente flesh. I don’t think I have ever loved cauliflower in this way before. It’s like it has finally found it’s kitchen soulmates: the brown butter, the chargrilled aroma, the bitter-sweet wilted chard. Let this be a lesson in how cauliflower should be cooked and all of those boiled, mushy, flavourless, wasted lives of cauliflowers need not have been in vain.
When the pudding menu was presented, choosing the traditional Cranachan was tempting, although we went for something a little more experimental: the Tea Cakes and the Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache. The latter was so dense and chocolatey that it was impossible to finish and the tea cakes came topped with raspberry, beetroot and lemon verbena flavours. The familiar Oreo acted as a base for the soft blancmange-y meringue underneath crisp, dark chocolate.
Mac & Wild has certainly hit the ground running; the venue on what would have been a quiet late August lunch time, was jam packed. The deep-hued wooden cozy interior is attractive and inviting whilst not trying too hard to appear ‘rustique chic’. The waiting staff are all remarkably good looking and even the deer statue which welcomes customers on arrival has a tangible handsomeness. Mac & Wild is a testament for “If it’s worth doing something, it’s worth doing well”. We will certainly be returning there soon to sample the towering Veni-Moo burger along with their extensive range of Whisky from the Highlands.