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Miller & Carter Reviewed

Gordo likes the look of the place but not the taste, not one little bit

Written by . Published on May 21st 2014.


Miller & Carter Reviewed
 

STEAK HOUSES have come on a bit since Gordo was a lad.

Every Friday night he was treated to a prawn cocktail, with brown bread and butter; the marie rose sauce drove him mad. Then it'd be a fried chicken and chips, a whole half, so to speak. Then Black Forest gateau with loads of cream. Life was sweet indeed.

What worries Gordo is that walk-in tourists, the only hope it has of staying in business because of its great location, will leave Manchester thinking we are a bunch of numpties

The steak houses were called Berni Inns. The Italian red wine was served in short, squat bottles wrapped in raffia and Gordo's mum, Maureen, would polish of a bottle of Mateus Rose and get a bit frisky. Though young Fatty didn't realise what was happening, tucked up in bed as he was. He just assumed the exercise bike was getting a battering.

Lovely building on King Street

Lovely building on King Street

Today, Manchester has steak houses which really blow your mind; starting with Gaucho grill and their Argentinian wet aged beef, the Restaurant Bar and Grill, with their own herds of cattle, abattoirs and guest breeds. Moving on to Sam's, Tom's and Albert's Chop Houses, acquiring more pedigree over eight years than you can shake a stick at. There's also the Grills on the Alley and New York Street. Let’s not forget the King of the lot, Malmaison’s Smoak, with Frost the Butchers beef dry-aging before your very eyes. 

Anyone thinking of opening another steak house in the city had better know their stuff.

Thus, it has been a curious Gordo who has watched the setting up of an updated Bernie Inn called Miller & Carter, owned by mega caterer, Mitchell & Butlers. It’s in the old Lloyds bank on the corner of King and Cross Street. 

Gordo called in to have a look at the fit-out and a quick drink at the bar. It looks and feels quality, with a bar stool that took his ample bum with no problems. The Guinness wasn't the best, pouring water for the first five pints, but got there in the end. This was only a few days after opening. 

The atmosphere is old school ‘grill room’, lots of leather and space. There is a nice trick of having three separate dining areas on three separate levels that make the place feel full, even if it’s only a third occupied. Good carpets soak up the conversation and music is where it should be, in the background. 

The kitchen is open to the middle area, adding tempting aromas to the place.

Inside Miller & Carter

Inside Miller & Carter

Returning a few days later as a walk-in to try out the food, Gordo spotted a bold claim on the A-board outside.

'The Best Steak in Town'.

Now, this was going to be a right old treat if it's better than its neighbours. Walking in with Gordo's companion Scottie, the odd-couple were given a good welcome and allowed to choose their own table. A table for four, but Gordo always orders plenty.

They started with the sharing platter; bourbon glazed pork belly bites, barbecue chicken wings, dusted calamari, crispy onion loaf, nachos, spinach and mozzarella dip and toasted ciabatta bread (£12.95).

Gordo had noted that the crispy onion loaf was ‘famous’, as in ‘our famous onion loaf’ described on the menu.

When the platter arrived it looked, well, OK. Tucking in, it was clear that someone was taking the piss. Famous? What for? Not being crispy? Being bland, floury and sticky? The pork belly bites were, err, fine; but had no crispy skin and a bit of a dodgy jellyness going on. Stuff like this needs to be bang on in a city boasting Almost Famous and Solita, the kings of flavour riddled mega food. The wings were OK; the mozzarella dip was slimy foulness. The crispy dusted calamari were great. The nachos were simply wrong. Dead wrong.

Pity platter

Pity platter

Moving on to the main act came the steak, chosen from ‘The Miller & Carter Steak Experience’. 

The T-Bone, 14oz, (£22.95), ‘is recommended at least medium rare to intensify the flavour’ says the menu copywriter, who clearly has not spent much time with either the chefs, a meat buyer, or, like Gordo, a master butcher. That advice is just sheer Mad Men nonsense and deeply patronising. Try telling Gordo’s daughter to take her steak anything but blue and you’ll get a slap.  

Steak with advice

 

Steak with advice

It came with a baked spud and a quarter of iceberg lettuce with dressing with sides of mac and cheese (£3.50) and a grilled half lobster tail with garlic and herb butter (£5.75). 

The T-Bone was weirdly small; taking away the weight of the bone, it’s more like 10oz of a fillet and sirloin steak. Which makes for a 7oz sirloin and a 3oz fillet. The flavour was closer to rose veal, that meat from no-mans land that people are promoting a little too much in Gordo’s opinion. This was the first time ever that Gordo has left half the steak on his plate. 

Oh, and the béarnaise sauce was split. The replacement was out of a jar.

Img_7435[1]

 

Lettuce monster

The mac and cheese was poor; very yellow and boring. The baked potato was good but the sour cream had no personality. The lettuce wedge came with a dressing that Gordo simply cannot remember.  

Mac & cheese

 

Mac & cheese

The lobster tale was OK, but another midget. Roughly about the size of Gordo’s thumb. Well, what did Fatty expect for a fiver? That size is slightly worrying though, aren’t there rules about the sizes we're allowed to catch to allow lobbies to reach maturity?  

The lost lobster tale

 

The lost lobster tale

The 8oz rump (£13.95) ‘recommended medium rare’, across the table came with similar sides. The bordelaise sauce was simply nasty, and left on the plate. The steak, according to the Scottish companion was “poor, very poor’’.

Rumpy pumpy povertyRumpy pumpy poverty

Pudding was bussed in from somewhere, but didn’t do too much harm to be fair. Indeed the crème brulee (£4.75) was actually very good and could be even better if the chefs left it alone. A sprig of wilted mint and a poor, weeping strawberry didn’t do it many favours. The lemon meringue (£5.50) was blameless.  

Creme brulee ok

 

Creme brulee ok

When you see a menu that talks about ‘finest cuts for our expert chefs to grill, using our own specialist techniques’ where the biscuit is ‘home made’ and so is the meringue, you are witnessing a menu written for style by people with no substance. And who treat the diner as a plonker. 

If you, dear reader, want the arse patronised off you by a brand that is clearly not fit to be within 150 yards of five of the best meat restaurants in the North West, and told how to have your steak cooked, then this is the place for you. 

No self-respecting Mancunian will come here twice; what worries Gordo is that walk-in tourists, the only hope it has of staying in business because of its great location, will leave Manchester thinking we are a bunch of numpties if this is the best steak in the city. 

Miller & Carter is all fur coat and no knickers. 

If you want to see what we believed to be the ten best steaks in Manchester, then click here. Although this needs updating – come on editor give us a timescale. 

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @gordomanchester

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Miller & Carter, King Street, Manchester, M2 4LQ. 0161 839 2846 

Rating: 13/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Food:  5/10 (sharing platter 4, T-bone 5, rump 5, mac & cheese 4, lobster tail 6, crème brulee 7, other pudd 6)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GlossopsharkMay 21st 2014.

Had the same experience at the Leeds site. Steak was ok at best and the mac 'n' cheese was boiled pasta with mild cheddar melted on top. The only up-side was that we went during their early bird special so not as expensive as it could've been.

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

No excuse for a split bearnaise sauce in a blooming steakhouse !!!!!!! Menu looks circa 1995 It will be closed within 8 months & hopefully jason atherton will snap it up

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Sharing platter looks disgusting

JDMay 21st 2014.

I went the night before official opening and the sharing platter was even more vile. Cold & stale bread, tasteless onion loaf, average wings and disappointing calamari! The chateaubriand was cooked well but wasn't rested so by the time the plates were taken away, blood was dripping off the table! Mac & Cheese tasted like cooked pasta with some melted Red Leicester on top, nothing special. Overall a hugely disappointing meal and I won't be visiting again.

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

The mac & cheese looks like they got a bit of pasta, put one of those plastic cheese slices on top and bunged it in the microwave. The meat itself just looks rubbery. On the 'avoid' list.

Olly BeatMay 21st 2014.

If you're going to use retro references to days gone by please use the correct name. They were called Berni Inns and had fantastic "floater" coffees, well before anyone else. It was our birthday treat to get a steak when the closest we had to red meat at home was ox liver. Aye, those were't days!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMay 22nd 2014.

I was eight! Couldn't spell then, can't spell now ...

Editorial commentMay 22nd 2014.

Changed, thanks

Hero
James CunninghamMay 22nd 2014.

Olly you are quite right.. Berni Inns they were.. long before my time but I cut my teeth in the restaurant trade with the company that bought them up, Beefeater.. but mine even Gordo would like as the Head Chef had been there 25 years and refused to bow to pressure to do anything other than deliver great steaks grilled well and the General Manager was in fact the last manager employed by the original Berni brothers... still to this day my mentor!

Poster BoyMay 22nd 2014.

Factory Food.

pollolocoMay 22nd 2014.

Spot on review...been to the Wilmslow branch once...it was truly vile.

AnonymousMay 22nd 2014.

Well someone must be eating here for them to have considered opening this site

AnonymousMay 22nd 2014.

I regularly go to the M&C in Aughton, Lancashire and I find the food very tasty. At first I was a little shocked being served a 1/4 of Iceberg Lettuce but I have grown to love it. I have lost count the number of times I have been and neither the company I was with nor I have ever complained. Granted I have not been to the one in Manchester and all kitchens, no matter how well trained, have different levels of skill so perhaps the Manchester M&C needs a bit more practice..... or new chefs?

Lorraine ByrneMay 22nd 2014.

Just had lunch here - nearly broke my teeth on the Schnitzel! Burnt to a cinder and the chicken was tough as boots, nearly broke the brand new steak knife that I tried to use. Shame. Chicken soup really really good though! They defo need to get a chef who can cook and who can see what they're sending out to their customers.

Kevin BroadhurstMay 22nd 2014.

Tried this out soon after it opened my experience the steak was very poor for a dedicated steak house which brags the best steak in town, the chips were tasteless, the onion roll yuck. I will not be returning....

Nick WestMay 23rd 2014.

It's the mac n cheese pic that gives the game away for me. Just take a moment to look at it. Insipid.

confuddledMay 23rd 2014.

You say you'd prefer 'walk-in tourists' not to go, but then give it a mark which suggests people should go if they're passing...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Henry VMay 23rd 2014.

Bit pedantic there befuddled?

confuddledMay 23rd 2014.

It's confuddled to you, your highness. Pointing out an obvious contradiction that's all - those just passing might well be tourists who walk in then think manchester can't cook steak (or macaroni cheese or onion bread or indeed nachos).

AVOMay 23rd 2014.

Went on the first couple of days after it opened. 50% off the food so thought I'd give it a try. Steaks were pretty average. My friend asked for his rib eye to be cooked medium however it came out blue. Given the cut, the fat didn't have a chance to cook into the meat so he was left with an inedible, fatty lump of flesh. To be fair, they did knock the price of his steak off the bill. Definitely wouldn't go if paying full price though.

emdawgbMay 23rd 2014.

Oh christ, glad I read this! My boyfriend and I wandered past one day before the opening when they were giving out free samples of steak from an outdoor grill - it all tasted great so we were planning to go some time. However this all looks crap!

MelvinMay 23rd 2014.

Poor research here. This is a chain, part of M&B- who brought us such fantastic culinary delights as Toby carvery and harvester. You must have missed that or been blindly optimistic to expect quality from the pub co version of McDonald's. Yes, they own browns, buts that pretty crap as well

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoMay 24th 2014.

No poor research, M&C are the up-market brand so I went with an open mind; I love All Bar One's gammon, egg and chips, the best hangover cure in Manchester, they as well are a Mitchell and Butler brand. I wanted it to match the fit out, which is a corker, but it didn't.

PaulMay 24th 2014.

The building does look nice.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 24th 2014.

Waste of a great building and a great location filling it with such an insipid chain. Who are the owners / landlords? Name and shame!

AVOMay 24th 2014.

Why would be the landlords be named and shamed for taking the commercial decision to lease out an empty property to a bar and restaurant chain? The majority of King Street is lying empty and desolate. Surely it is better to have tenants in a building than have it boarded up?

AnonymousMay 24th 2014.

Probably Avo, but at the risk of extrapolating wildly, it depends what sort of city you want to live in. This is a leisure scheme not, retail. The city has a burgeoning dining scene. This is a fine building in an absolutely prime position with many interesting independent restaurants trading successfully and profitably nearby. What Manchester desperately needs are more developers and land owners that consider the social and cultural life of the city rather than only being interested in making a quick buck. Sure there is nothing inherently wrong with sticking a crap chain restaurant in here if economic return is your only measure of value but I think people want more from where they live. This is the same laissez faire attitude that breeds zombie car parks, poor housing, cheap architecture and crap places to live.

AnonymousMay 25th 2014.

Same with pizza express across the road, this area could be a special dining district, these chains are a waste

AnonymousMay 25th 2014.

Fortunately This & That restaurant is only ten minutes walk away.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 25th 2014.

What's that got to do with anything?

AnonymousMay 25th 2014.

The landlord will invariably lease the unit out to the tenant with the best covenant (Mitchell's and butler in this case?) who will sign to a long term lease. This is the most valuable and saleable option, keeps the banks off their backs and rewards them for the risk of investing millions in buying and redeveloping a building. It's a shame...but that's life unless you find a philanthropic owner. Every prime pitch is usually a chain for this reason. Someone mentions Jason Atherton above. Pollen street is a side street - he's not on oxford street.

1 Response: Reply To This...
TimbucJune 17th 2014.

Perhaps you should check out Jason Atherton's website. Pollen Street is one of five or six restaurants he has in London as well as another eight around the world. I don't think he'd struggle with a lease for a King Street building if that's what he chose to do. Sadly I don't think he's got any interest in Manchester.

AnonymousJune 13th 2014.

Reading your review I foolishly thought can it be so bad, I booked a table for 6. Lesson learn't, it was the worst meal i've had in a long time. It was so bad the manager deducted all the food off the bill. He also invited us back and took our email, we never received it it or heard a thing. Its a shame but it will fail and only get tourists. List of disappointment was endless......45 min wait for starters, tasteless prawns clearly defrosted in running water for ages, microwaved jacket potato over cooked, overcooked tough steak, coleslaw served in boiling hot dish the list goes on.....even the staff who were very nice seemed embarrassed.

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