Tom and I were lucky to be invited to the launch night of the new Miller and Carter (M&C) steakhouse which opened in Kidlington just before Christmas. I’ve heard glorious things about the M&C chain from my Uncle Jeffery, a SERIOUS CARNIVORE, who is legendary for his epic turkeys cooked over Christmas and his passion for exotic and sumptuous steaks, about his local branch.
It’s clear on arrival that the steakhouse presents a rich and princely atmosphere, with red upholstered booths and warm low lighting. As the manager and host explained, they want people to head to M&C for a special celebration and feel like royalty – everything is geared to giving ‘their guests the best experience.’ As a PR, I was impressed by the slick opening night and also how ‘on message’ everyone from the front man, chef to the waiters – each ready to meet your every whim.
As this was opening night, we were treated to a special celebration of all things steak. First with a butchery demonstration from master butchers at Fairfax Meadow. Here our master craftsman made mince meat (pun intended!) of the large cuts on his table, deftly cutting different joints in half an hour. He explained that only the very best steak makes its way to the chefs at M&C restaurants – in fact, only four per cent of each animal would ever see the grill. I was a bit concerned about what happened to the rest of the carcass, but apparently, its graded differently and sent to other establishments. Each steak is also hand cut – never by laser – which means that each imperfection is singled out and discarded – no grizzle here.
M&C steaks are also aged over thirty days – hung for ten before vacuum packed and aged for a further twenty. Did you know that from one cow, only two chateaubriand fillets are cut – which is why they are one of the most expensive dishes on the menu!
Before we sat down to our steak dinner, we also took part in a steak and wine matching masterclass. Now I’ve done, cheese and wine matching, chocolate and wine matching but steak and wine was a new area for me and Tom – I think we both thought ‘Surely, it’s just a case of red for red meats, white for white meats and fish?’ Oh, how wrong we were!
In a nutshell, our expert explained, that the fattier the steak, with marbled rib-eye at one extreme and a bistro fillet at the other, the heavier the wine you should be drinking. Heavier wines with more tannins help to break down the fats and as the fats break down, the eater benefits from a better taste in steak and the wine – so the two go hand-in-hand.
After our masterclasses, we settled down to a special menu that highlighted all the best bits. We started with a sharing platter that featured a number of their classic starters including salt and pepper calamari, cured bresaola and hoisin sticky duck wings.
The classic Miller and Carter steak is accompanied with a lettuce bowl – a chunk of iceberg slathered in a choice of salad dressings, I opted for the garlic mayonnaise and parmesan. The salad reminded me a lot of the sort of side dish I had in the states in the Appleby’s chain – where a ‘green goddess’ salad was literally a half an iceberg lettuce.
My steak was mouthwatering, I had the fillet and I think I impressed the chef, who came round to discuss our menu choices, when I said I’d be having it rare. Apparently, that’s ‘not a popular choice for the ladies’ – read into that what you will. Each steak is served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of onion loaf and a balsamic glazed beef tomato. There was so much food – in fact, it was a very American-feeling experience. Somehow we managed to squeeze down our dessert…
Tom and I will definitely be heading back, all the staff were ridiculously helpful and certainly made our experience. We’ve already convinced the other steak lover in my family, Papa Friend, to try it out tonight – I’m not a bit jealous! Thanks to the team at Miller and Carter for inviting us to the launch night.