St Andrew’s day at Bonnie and Wild

Yesterday was St Andrew’s Day—and if that isn’t a reason to deep fry mars bars, use Irn Bru as a feasible cooking ingredient and persuade a piper to come blow his pipes in a requisitioned eel and pie shop, then I don’t know what is.

With that in mind, I shotgunned a shift at Bonnie & Wild in the knowledge that they’d be indulging in all of the above and far, far more.

I wasn’t the only one who’d worked out that this was the place to be to celebrate good ol’ St Andrew—there were about 100 tartan-clad diners crammed into M.Manzes, gorging themselves on Scottish specialties like cullen skink, venison and haggis. Many thanks to everyone for a great night’s cooking – hope everyone who ate enjoyed the evening as much as I did…

Lone piper...cannie get much more atmospheric than that.

Home-cured, wild Scottish Salmon to kick the meal off...

Beautiful, creamy Cullen Skink with toasted tattie scones

Simmy—head chef at Bonnie & Wild— a remarkably well-trousered and extremely tolerant boss...

Venison haunch fillet with haggis, neeps and tatties in a redcurrant jus

What happens if you reduce a hell of a lot of irn bru for a hell of a long time

Anxious little mars bars waiting to be battered

The battering of the mars bars

The finished result—cross section of a deep fried Mars bar

Deep-fried mars bar with sorbet and Irn-Bru and Buckfast syrup

All in all, pretty successful St Andrews celebrations

The Bonnie & Wild / M. Manze
74 Chapel Market, Islington, London N1 9ER

The restaurant is open from 7pm every Friday and Saturday, but there is a curry-special taking place tonight.
Click HERE for bookings
The venue is laid out mainly in booths for 4 and 6.

Back at Bonnie & Wild

After five days in the office, I was counting down the hours to get into the kitchen at Bonnie and Wild. It was an epic night. Thanks to a wine matching menu, 30 of the 80 covers went out in one go…no mean feat with just three of us in the kitchen.

But by the comments from diners meandering through the kitchen, I think it’s fair to say that we pulled it off. One lady actually stopped by to smell (pretty much inhale) the homemade tomato chutney…though that was probably down to the quantity of booze she’d ploughed through rather than the brilliance of the chutney.

So, here’s what we were cooking up in the kitchen – it was mainly down to the chef Iain, though I’m taking total credit for the scallops…having probably only cooked about 15 in my life until Friday, I pan fried about 180 in a single evening – the best way perfect the art…!

amuse bouche - salmon cured in whisky and lemon

pheasant terrine and apple chutney (tasted a gazillion times better than it looks - I'd go as far as saying the best thing on the menu on Friday)

scallops with wild 'shrooms and butternut squash

venison with a beetroot jus, turnip mash and haggis

mullet and razor clam

poached pears with vanilla cream

cheeseboard

happy diners at bonnie and wild

The restaurant is open from 7pm every Friday and Saturday. The venue is laid out mainly in booths for 4 and 6.

To make a reservation book online here
alternatively you can send an e-mail to:bookings@bonniewild.co.uk

Please note the restaurant is CASH ONLY & BYOB (£29 for three courses).

The Bonnie & Wild / M. Manze
74 Chapel Market, Islington, London N1 9ER

Behind the scenes at Bonnie & Wild

When Bonnie & Wild asked if I’d come and work some shifts in their kitchen, I jumped at the chance. Firstly, I could do with the extra cash (sadly blogs don’t pay…and the magazine industry barely does). Also, it’s a great restaurant with a lovely chef, and (most of all) it was a chance for me to play about with game.

And that’s the thing—I barely ever get to cook with game—which is sad because it’s one of my favourite ingredients.
It’s hard to come by in London, and when I do stumble across it, I struggle with the whacked up price—it’s hard to part with too much money for a rabbit when I know that my boyfriend’s parents would happily give me the bunnies that strayed into their veggie patch for nothing (my parents aren’t quite as happy wielding a shotgun, so it’s usually up to their considerably more aggressive spoodle —spaniel cross poodle—to guard the veggies—but she has a tendency of mauling and eating her kill before I can put it in a pie).

Parents' vicious spoodle (left) fending off a golden retriever

I digress.

Andy Waugh was also brought up in the middle of nowhere—north Scotland where the deer and haggis roam free (…or at least they do until his family who’ve run a game-butchering business for 30 years get hold of them).

He came to London to do a sensible-sounding, money-making job—but somewhere along the way jacked it in, and decided to set up The Wild Game Co instead. The idea is that Andy, Ruaridh and Ruaridh (as if to prove that it is a genuine Scottish company run by genuine Scots) ship good quality game from the Highlands to sell it to Londoners via their market stall, restaurant or website.

Andy from the Wild Game Co

The company has a stall at White Cross Market from Monday to Friday where they persuade ham-sandwich-eating punters to gorge themselves on pigeon chorizo rolls and venison fillet sandwiches instead. On Saturdays they migrate east to Broadway Market to sell whatever game is in season—perhaps the wittily named ‘have you met my mate stu?’ stewing meat, or the ‘nice baps’ burgers.

On Friday and Saturday evenings Bonnie & Wild kicks off—and that’s a different story altogether. It starts round lunchtime on Friday when Ian Sims (head chef who moved down south to work his friends’ restaurant after a six years at Edinburgh’s award winning Mussel Inn) makes his way through Chapel Market to M Manze’s eel and pie shop, where he’s charmed himself a corner of the kitchen to start prepping by the potato-mashing machine.

Alex from Bonnie Gull

The Wild Game Co have teamed up with Bonnie Gull Ltd—another young catering company which specialises in sustainable British seafood—to hire the pie shop to put on a joint set menu which showcases their wares. It’s a chilled out affair, with devastatingly charming waitresses, bring-your-own-booze and a ukulele player who occasionally turns up to serenade the diners.

One of the stumbling blocks was the fact that pie and mash don’t need sophisticated cooking equipment—but game does. In a 1905 Grade II listed shop, this could have caused a problem…until the boys put an enormous barbecue in the yard out back. This both solves the cooking issue, and also adds a great, smoky flavour to the meat which you wouldn’t get from a boring ol’ oven.

I had one of the best night’s cooking I’ve ever had, and from the look on the diners’ faces as they passed through the kitchen (to the tiny, tea-light-lit loo) they were having a great time too. If you fancy a chilled and reasonably-priced evening with friends in a restaurant run by some of the most passionate-about-food and entrepreneurial people I’ve come across, then I suggest you drop by.

The restaurant is open from 7pm every Friday and Saturday. The venue is laid out mainly in booths for 4 and 6.

To make a reservation book online here
alternatively you can send an e-mail to:bookings@bonniewild.co.uk

Please note the restaurant is CASH ONLY (£29 for three courses) & BYOB.

The Bonnie & Wild / M. Manze
74 Chapel Market, Islington, London N1 9ER