One of the newest restaurant openings in Cardiff is another branch of Miller and Carter, the steakhouse element of the Mitchells and Butlers empire. I’d already tried – and enjoyed – Miller and Carter at Cardiff Bay, so I was pleased to have an opportunity to go along and try their new restaurant.
It’s an impressive place, occupying the old Habitat site on the Hayes, with a whopping 230 covers, plus 90 in the bar, and a large seating area outside too. We visited on a Monday night, shortly after the opening, and although nowhere near full, it was very busy.
Mr W had a slightly odd experience in the bar whilst awaiting my arrival. He ordered a glass of Merlot but was told they didn’t have any, so asked if he could see a wine list. Another member of bar staff (not the one serving him) shouted across the bar at this point “Don’t worry about the price, just have what you want!” He found this a bit strange, seeing as (a) the main reason for asking for a wine list is so you can choose what you want and (b) it’s rather rude to suggest that someone is concerned about the price of something, regardless of whether they are or aren’t!
Fortunately, all of the other staff we encountered, particularly the waiter who looked after us for the majority of the evening, were far more polite and gave us a much better impression of the restaurant, so all was not lost!
I won’t go into loads of detail about the menu as it was the same sort of thing as the other Cardiff Miller and Carter: mainly steaks, with a generous selection of side orders (including the famous onion loaf!) included within your order, a few burgers, grills and salads.
We each tried a starter: Lemongrass and Chilli Tempura King Prawns for me, served with sweet chilli jam, and Lime Marinated Salmon Crostini for Mr W. Both were generous portions and were simple food, done well, although the sweet chilli jam was a bit synthetic tasting for my liking. Fortunately the prawns had enough flavour in them to not really need it.
I opted for a fillet steak (again), medium rare, with all the trimmings, a béarnaise sauce, honey mustard and bacon dressing on my iceberg lettuce wedge and an additional side of mac & cheese (regular readers will know my dislike of it being called this!) Mr W opted for a ribeye, also medium rare, the same sides and salad dressing, a peppercorn sauce and a half rack of ribs on the side.
Both of our steaks were clearly good quality and cooked exactly how we’d asked for them. The sides were mostly good: the chips crispy (better than last time), the ribs tasty, and the mac & cheese surprisingly not at all artificial tasting, despite its rather lurid colour. The only slight let-downs were the sauces – Mr W’s peppercorn, which we’d hoped would be an improvement on last time he had it, sadly wasn’t, and my bearnaise was more like custard with a few green bits in it – and also the onion loaf which was nowhere near as crisp as we thought it should have been, nor as it had been when we’d tried it in the other Cardiff restaurant. The food was nicely presented, though, and was certainly a lot more special than a steak and chips dish in some of Mitchells and Butlers’ more pub-like chains.
To finish, Mr W had a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream, which was very good, and I had Belgian chocolate ganache, which was served with peanut butter crumb, freshly whipped cream and berry compote. This was rich and tasty, although I couldn’t taste any peanut butter so it was more just a crumb! I also wasn’t sure if the cream and compote were perfect partners with the rich ganache, but I’m not sure what I would have chosen instead. If I went back again and wasn’t driving, I’d be very tempted by one of their selection of after dinner cocktails – a chocolate martini was very tempting!
I really like the new Miller and Carter. The food is good quality and excellent value, given the amount that is included in the price of the steak main courses (£21.95 for my fillet) and the city centre location actually lends itself better to a place like this that seems to be a bit of a crowd pleaser and therefore a lot of people’s choice for a celebration meal with a large group. Although it wouldn’t be my venue of choice for a special occasion or a romantic evening, it’s a safe bet for a good meal and I can imagine it will have a great buzz on a Friday and Saturday night. I also really like the fact that it has a dress code (smart casual – or dress to impress if you fancy) and I would love to know if they enforce it. I really hope they do!
Miller and Carter, 9-11 The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1AH
I was invited to Miller and Carter as a guest and therefore part of our meal (two courses each plus one drink each) were complimentary.