Thursday, May 3, 2012


The other night when we were off to see Snow Patrol at the Egyptian Room, it only seemed appropriate to give MacNiven’s a try, given that the band resides in Scotland (even though I think they are all Irish, but whatever) and MacNiven’s is a Scottish bar.  Ok, really we just wanted to try the place, but seemed like a good tie in (and check this out, I even drank beer while I was there).

Because so often when I go to a place like this, that seems to have a loyal following, I often get yelled at after writing a review for not ordering the “right” thing.  While I still maintain that if it is on the menu, it should be good, I can appreciate that certain places have certain things that may excel above others.  And since with pubs it is sometimes hard to figure it out on your own, I have taken to asking around on twitter to see if there are certain items that many people mention specifically.

Well, I can assure you people feel strongly about MacNiven’s and the most popularly mentioned item that day when I took my random poll were the Scotch eggs ($7.50).  So naturally we had to order them (and I might not have otherwise).  If you aren’t familiar, Scotch eggs are boiled eggs that are covered in sausage, lightly breaded and deep fried.  And I will have to say, you guys were right.  These things were darn tasty.  First of all you know I love eggs in pretty much any format, so that was a plus (and cheers to the kitchen who obviously knows how to boil an egg properly which is a skill many do not have).  The sausage gave it a salty, slightly spicy kick with a wonderful crispy edge.  Also, the red pepper aioli was great with them.  We both commented about how much we liked it—and that it was a spicy red pepper and not a red bell pepper flavor which is neither of our favorite tastes.  Hubby was somewhat fanatical about making sure he just put the aioli on the egg part so as not to ruin the crispy edges of the sausage.  I good technique, but I was just dipping and eating.  Hubby ate a lot more Scotch eggs during our time in the UK and I asked him what he thought in comparison—he said he thought these were some of the best he’d had (other than ones he had at a fancy restaurant once that were actually wrapped in salmon which he will reminisce about for ages).
We also went with what was also recommended by several—the Angus burger ($10.25 with cheese).  So this is a unique take on a burger and we ended up deciding we quite liked it.  So it is this huge, super thin burger patty (I am talking the size of the plate) on a regular sized bun.  The meat is marinated in Worcestershire sauce and pepper and there is no ordering it anyway but pretty well done (says so right on the menu, which I appreciate, at least they are letting you know).  Because the meat is so thin (I mean I am talking like a thick crepe), I can’t imagine it could be cooked any other way.  And it didn’t matter because it had a ton of flavor because of the Worcestershire sauce.  We ordered cheese on ours (cheddar) and it was sort of silly that they only put one little square on that huge orb of meat, although once you folded it up on the bun (which is the only way to really eat it like a sandwich, by folding it into quarters), it was about the size of the end product.  I would ask for an extra slice or two next time though.  We just topped it with onions and it really didn’t need anything else—we alternated back and forth about whether we liked ketchup on it better or not—the Worcestershire giving it such a unique flavor on its own.  I can see how this might be a very cravable item, especially after a night of several drinks.
Ok, so I was going to go with the seared Ahi tuna that one of your recommended, but hubby balked and we ended up getting the Belhaven beer battered shrimp appetizer that none of you recommended (although someone did recommend the fish and chips made with the same batter) ($9.50).  Ok, ok, I shouldn’t have strayed, I should have listened.  These were not very good.  The shrimp was tough (and honestly didn’t taste that fresh—a little fishy) and the batter, while it had a nice beer flavor, wasn’t cooked enough and was too soft, quickly becoming mushy the longer they sat.  They were served with a couple of slices of lemon and some cocktail sauce.  I have to say, we had been having such good luck with everything up to this point, I had high hopes and was kind of disappointed.  But I guess I should have listened to you guys more.
Speaking of which, I noticed on the menu, and coming out of the kitchen, several orders of potato skins.  Really good potato skins (which are nearly impossible to find anymore) are a guilty pleasure of mine and I am wondering if any of you have had them and if they are fresh and if they are good.  Also, wondering if there are other gems on the menu we should try next time.  Because there will definitely be a next time.
339 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204

MacNiven's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. Ok Erin, since my Joan is the ultimate ahi tuna maven I know, I'll second you and state that you should have stuck with it. I've looked at this place a lot and judging by the appearance of the food, skipped it.

    Since we're off to Indianapolis tomorrow, I'll take another look and let you know if we have have lunch there.

  2. Glad you liked it, Erin. My husband and I love McNivens. They have some good vegetarian alternatives which I love and we both agreed that the onion rings were some of the best ever - though they are so big you only get two or three in an order. Be sure to try those next time!


  3. I'm glad you liked it! We love this place. It's walking distance from our apartment, which makes it even better. I really like the atmosphere at MacNiven's. It's cozy and not too loud. Their vegetarian club is excellent. I would also highly recommend the beef stew.

  4. I haven't had any of the items you mention, but I do like MacNivens! I have ordered the grilled cheese, which is super tasty because of the addition of the aioli, tomato and onion. I have also had the vegetarian haggis meal and thought it was good. Hubby gets the burger and loves the neeps.

  5. I like MacNiven's personally. The haggis is delicious, soothing, and just all around awesome. However, my wife was traumatized by the hamburger you sung the praises of. I can only guess that something awful happened to our hamburger because it was pretty vile. My wife, an unabashed carnivore, couldn't eat it. The taste was just really weird -- almost rancid. I ended up enjoying my haggis while she nibbled her french fries. I ended up having to take her to Barcelona Tapas so she could get something she wanted.

    Unfortunately, it's scarred her for life. I'll be lucky to go back unless I go with my brother or a friend.

  6. Hey Erin:

    This is one of my favorite places downtown. I always have a hard time NOT ordering the burger but when I stray these items are great:

    Potato skins are awesome & VERY hard to find in Indy anymore

    Scotch Onion Soup is very "scotchy" (yum!)

    Sausage Rolls, Beans & Chips can be a little greasy at times but still great

    Mince N’ Tatties is awesome when it's cold outside

    Great review, always look forward to your posts.

  7. Erin, so glad you had some of the great stuff at Macniven's. I love them as a great Mass Ave standby. (I also have loved them since they rejected an award from Nuvo readers as "Best Irish Bar." Hahahahah!)

    You nailed the burger (quartered up is the way to go) and also the chicken sandwich is a go-to. I love the Scotch egg salad wherein the lettuce really serves as a vehicle for the Scotch eggs. And also, the fish-and-chips are pretty good. Since you all were in the UK, you'll also appreciate the haggis (the veg haggis is very good), and they make a pretty passable curry.

    Also, the onion rings are great. This is making me crave a burger now. Maybe lunch today.