My eldest son loves steak.
He would eat it every night if he had his way and, when it comes to cooking it, he considers himself a black belt.
He patiently prepares the meat, meticulously seasons it, and then watches over the hot griddle pan with unflinching concentration.
So when I offered to take him for a meal out of his choice, there was only one restaurant in his mind – Miller and Carter.
Those of a certain age will remember it as the old Wiggin Tree. A lot has changed since then, but the splendid views over Parbold Hill remain the same (there’s still an ice-cream van, too, parked on the lay-by opposite).
There is ample car-parking. An impressive beer garden wraps around the side and front of the restaurant, which I instantly promised to myself to try out one day in better weather, with older company.
I hadn’t seen chicken schnitzel on a menu in years, and it was nice, well-cooked, and served with a tasty tomato and basil salad and a smooth, punchy garlic mayo
Miller and Carter has recently reopened after a refurb. They’ve done a fine job, too.
Walk in, and there is a long bar on the right with a small lounge area. On the left and ahead is the bulk of the ground-space – a stylish restaurant, all white walls, wood and open brick. We were greeted at the entrance – the stylish, glass walk-in wine cellar is the type of thing to add to any ‘When I win the Lottery’ wishlist – and guided to a booth, which had the ‘new car’ fresh leather smell. The soft jazz music helped make for a relaxed atmosphere. So far, so good.
One comment I had heard about Miller and Carter is it is expensive.
But when we were handed the menus, I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised, because the prices were very reasonable. And surprised because it was 6pm and we were handed the lunch menu!
They must do lunches late in Parbold, I thought. Either way, with a ‘two courses for £10.95’ option, I wasn’t complaining. My only regret was my decision to drive, so I couldn’t take advantage of the well-stocked bar. Twice during the evening we had to stop a passing waitress to order drinks, but that aside, the service was efficient. The waitress even remembered our choices without writing them down (anyone else get nervous that the order will be wrong when that happens?). My son asked for the £45.95 chateaubriand.
I laughed. He hoped the 8oz fillet (from the main menu, £23.95) was a fair compromise – it wasn’t – before ‘settling’ on the rump at £14.75. I ordered chicken. I know, I know. Who goes to a steak restaurant and orders chicken, right? “Wilko, you’re a bigger idiot than we thought...”
But there was logic to my decision: I wanted to check they weren’t one trick ponies. After all, if all they can do well is steak, does that mean only couples and families who all eat steak should go?
Well, for those people, I can vouch that the salt and pepper calamari starter is delightful. Quite possibly the best £3 I’ve ever spent on food.
My youngest son was equally-satisfied with the chicken wings. He opted for the 7oz steak frites (from the lunchtime set menu, but with a £2.50 supplement). He enjoyed the steak and loved the seasoned chips.
My eldest son’s rump was ordered medium rare and, he said, cooked to perfection. He thought the parsley butter on top was a nice touch – though he couldn’t quite understand why it was served with a large wedge of lettuce. Literally, half a lettuce, in a bowl. It was the only thing he left.
I hadn’t seen chicken schnitzel on a menu in years, and it was nice, well-cooked, and served with a tasty tomato and basil salad and a smooth, punchy garlic mayo. The portions weren’t huge, and that isn’t a criticism; even with my appetite, I can be put-off by mountain-size meals.
And it left just enough room to help my youngest son finish off his child’s chocolate brownie which, at £2, was a bargain.
In truth, there’s something about Miller and Carter which made it fall just short of my ‘rushing to return’ category. And it’s hard to put a finger on why. Maybe it’s the sprawling size, which makes it all feel a little impersonal, because on every other measure it ticked the boxes: good food (seriously, the calamari, is well worth a try), solid service, nice decor, at a reasonable price.
Chicken wings £3
8oz rump steak £14.75
Steak frites £10.45
Chicken schnitzel £7.95
Dessert: child’s brownie £2