December 12 2013

Review: Miller and Carter

Okay Piggies, before I go on with what you’re about to receive I have to warn you that the following review is of a chain restaurant, and their USP (we’re on contemporary steakhouse territory here) isn’t unique to Bath. But I wish to offer an explanation of my motivation before the sty gets overturned by Piglets who rightfully question my staunch defence of independent ventures against the chain invasion.

Miller and Carter have done an outstanding job of refurbishing one of Bath’s most beautiful listed buildings in fine style, without introducing yet another vile, faceless “superpub” to the thriving Milsom/George Street crossroads. They’ve employed dozens of local people in one fell swoop. They’re very keen to integrate themselves into the local community as much as they possibly can. The steaks that form the mainstay of their menu are impeccably sourced. Oh, and the people who work here are lovely (of which see more later). Okay, there you have it: defence in place before I’ve even got on to the merits of just going ahead and munching here. Stick with me, Piglets! You won’t be disappointed.

The Pig table for two feasted in very fine style at Miller and Carter on a recent weekday evening, finding it hard to believe that we were sitting in in a venue that, last time we visited a couple of years ago, was showing a football game on six massive screens while the kitchen churned out pies that hadn’t quite defrosted in the middle and a patient Street Warden did his best (but unfortunately failed) to talk a reveller out of trying to accost the barman. Oh, how times have changed! Today the former Beau Nash pub is a graciously glamorous affair featuring a plush bar area and glossy split-level dining room at street level and a collection of very chic private dining/meeting rooms upstairs, which have a dedicated kitchen serviced by your own personal waiting staff but can be hired free of charge. Fixtures and fittings (check out the groovy chandeliers in particular) represent fashion-forward style statements at every turn: think, a perfect Sex and the City-style location if Sex and the City was only just about to hit our screens. Glamour a go-go? You got it!

We Pigged out on starters of Black Pearl scallops served on proper black pudding and topped with crispy pancetta, and smooth duck parfait funked up by slivers of shredded duck served with a juicy, fruity chutney and shards of ciabatta – nom nom nom to the max. As regards the main event, my sirloin (cooked properly, bravely rare as recommended) pretty much topped my steak charts for the best I’ve had this year, while Mr Pig’s rollickin’ ribeye was equally exemplary. Our knives slid through both highly flavoursome slabs of meaty merriment like the proverbial hot blade through butter, while the accompanying flourishes (Béarnaise and seasoned fries with the sirloin; Bordelaise and jacket spud with the ribeye; onion loaf and a dressed iceberg wedge for each) couldn’t have been bettered. In the name of research on your behalf (and nothing to do with, you understand, over-indulgence on our part), we went all-out with a glazed vanilla brûlée and a chocolate and raspberry pot/homemade cookie combo that, even though I’d ordered the latter in mini version with coffee, came in all it’s full-sized glory – lovin’ your work, M&C chefs; your generosity has been noted. Meanwhile, I can’t possibly move on to the round-up summary without giving a stand-alone mention to the staff we met on the evening of our visit: a genuinely friendly, well-informed and highly efficient team of down-to-earth very nice people who made us feel very welcome indeed.

Okay, such a splendid feast may not comply with your pre-Christmas budget. But portions go large here, so nobody needs to go as over-the-top as we did (and I have to say, I’ve saved a fair few pennies by not having to have eaten more than a couple of slices of dry toast since we parted company a couple of days ago), and deals abound if you do the sign-up thing on the M&C website.

Yes, this is a review of a chain restaurant. But as far as The Pig is concerned, this one is a welcome addition to the Bath eating out scene.

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