Chris Wilson is impressed by the meat feast on offer at Miller?& Carter.
You see Miller and Carter steakhouses popping up all over the country these days and they’ve definitely found a niche.
People like the familiarity and what they see as the guarantee of a certain standard of food and service, not unlike the way my parents’ generation, unused to dining out, put their trust in the good old Berni Inns back in the 1960s.
But there’s nothing dull or predictable about something done exceptionally well, and as I entered a busy and bustling restaurant on a Tuesday night in August, a time of year when other food venues have tumbleweed drifting past their front doors as despairing managers wait for the school holidays to end, it occurred to me that they must be doing something right.
So what’s the secret? Having previously dined at branches of M & C in Sheffield and Leeds, I headed to the Bessacar restaurant, just off the M18 link road, pretty sure that I knew what I was in for.
On a certain level I was right. Steak is the name of the game here, sourced from 30-day aged British and Irish beef from cattle, from beasts aged 30 months or younger so the muscles aren’t overworked and the meat is more tender. As you can see I did my research, but everything’s spelled out on a very informative website.
And while fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes are also available if you’re not in full carnivore mode you’re missing out on what M & C is all about.
So my friend Andy and I decided to go all out with one of the menu’s main course show stoppers, the Butcher’s Block (£58.95). This trio of eight ounce steaks was just right for two very hungry people, while still sensible enough to ensure we were not straying into ‘man vs food’ territory.
But what lifted our steak experience onto a higher plane was the sheer quality of the meat and the skill with which it was cooked. We thought we’d thrown down a challenge by asking for our three steaks to be cooked differently - medium for the rump, medium rare for the ribeye and rare for the fillet - but all were cooked perfectly and packed with smoky char-grilled flavour.
The rump in particular, while carrying slightly more chew, was incredibly tasty. I understand now whey they call this underrated cut the chef’s choice. Andy meanwhile revelled in the sheer tenderness of the thick, juicy fillet.
Throw in some excellent seasoned fries, onion loaf, two spot-on steak sauces (porcini mushroom & black garlic and classic béarnaise) and a brisket-stuffed marrowbone and you have a formidable meat feast to linger long in the memory. And, as any M & C regular will know, no meal is complete without a wedge of crispy lettuce with a choice of dressing.
Steak this good deserves a decent red wine of course and we shared a fantastic bottle of medium bodied Argentinian Aguaribay Malbec (£29.95). Or rather I had a few sips and watched my companion work his way through the bottle... the curse of being designated driver.
But if you are watching your intake, M&C is the only restaurant I’ve found serving Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic spirit that certainly passes muster if you can’t have your usual pre-dinner G&T. The Seedlip Spice 94 (£4.95), topped up with fiery ginger beer, was a sparkling start to my evening.
Two excellent starters of garlic king prawns with toasted ciabatta (£6.95) and salt and pepper calamari (£6.95) had teed up our meaty shared main perfectly and a couple of sensibly light desserts in the form of crème brûlée (£5.25) which had that all-important crisp and slightly burnt topping and fresh berries with sorbet and meringue (£6.25) rounded the evening off perfectly.
Going back to that very informative website again, all Miller and Carter head chefs must go to ‘steak school’ before they are allowed to be in charge of the kitchens. The chief steak slinger at the Besscar branch surely graduated with honours.
Miller & Carter, 329 Bawtry Road, Rossington, Doncaster, DN4 7PB
Tel: 01302 867 329