Homeward Bound: Miller and Carter, Lakeside, Essex

Cocktails!

Cocktails!

When my husband offered to take me somewhere swanky for a meal out, Lakeside based steakhouse Miller and Carter instantly sprung to mind. With no prices on their online menu, the venue definitely has an elusive air, further compounded by its imposing location. Situated on a static boat along the pier at Lakeside Shopping Centre, walking towards it you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer grandeur of it; the decks bejewelled with swinging lanterns, a suave black sign with swirled golden lettering detailing the restaurant name on both the side of the boat and on the signage above the gangway entrance leading up the main doors. Darkly elegant and sophistication oozing from every window, a poster on the door even informed guests that the dress code is smart.

Outside the gangway

Outside the gangway

Despite walking in late on a random Wednesday evening, we were told we had a 40 minute wait for the next available table, so we headed to the back of the main dining area to find the bar, where I managed to instantly scout out a cocktail menu. Surreptitiously looking around over my menu, I drank in the sights of highly polished wood, gold and brass accents, the atmospherically dimmed lighting and the upgraded nautical feel. This was definitely luxury yacht, not a rubber dingy in sight. While we waited, I decided to order a Vanilla White Russian – in my opinion, you really can’t beat the opulence of cream and alcohol combined. Mixing vanilla flavoured vodka, Tia Maria, milk and cream, the cocktail was delicious and presented nicely. We slurped away at a separate seating area near the bar as we waited for a table to be available, watching our bleeper with baited breath, as you do when you’re hungry.

Pork belly starter

Pork belly starter

Finally we were seated, and able to clap eyes on the full dinner menu. Since this was a special night out, it the whole hog and three courses for us, accompanied by a cheeky glass of rose of course. To start, I settled on the Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly Bites, served with a dressed slaw-style salad. To say this was amazing, is a bit of an understatement to be honest. The pork was wonderfully tender and flavourful, without lashings of fat which is always a pleasant surprise when it comes to pork. The glaze richly coated each nugget of pork and also seemed incorporated in a decorative drizzle across the plate, so it helped flavour the crunch of the slaw too which was good. Sticky, gooey pork paired with the crunchy bite of the slaw was a great combo and juxtaposition of texture, so a thumbs up from

Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

me. Dan on the other hand opted for the Chargrilled Chicken Wings, which although he enjoyed, he had to push aside the blue cheese dip – a slightly odd / unusual accompaniment for chicken.

Mains could only be one thing – steak, as this is clearly what Miller and Carter are famed for. I decided to have my steak slightly differently however, choosing the Fillet Wellington, which was a fabulously thick slab of steak (medium rare, just how I like it), topped with a slathering of pate and mushrooms and wrapped in golden puff pastry. There is just something so expansive and decadent about a beef wellington, and I love having one as a treat. This one did not disappoint –

My main course

My main course

the meat was tender and cooked to my specification, cutting like butter with my steak knife. The puff pastry was a pale golden hue, breaking with a soft crisp when cut and mashing into the pate layer nicely. The pate helps to enhance the richness of the flavour of the beef, really bringing out the depths of the red meat flavour, and I adored every mouthful. Served with a little round dish of gravy, I think I may have gone overboard on the side slightly. A thick slice of their onion loaf was a nice surprise and something unexpected – it tasted a bit like a non-spicy onion bharji, with that crisp and crunchy fried feel, although the inside of the onion loaf was reminiscent of a hash brown, swapping potato for onion.  I also choose sweet potato fries which came up thin, nice and crunchy and incredibly moreish in a way only sweet potato fries have. My meal also came with a salad and unsure on portion sizes, I ordered buttered veg too – needless to say I didn’t really need the veg, but luckily this side came up on the small side! I

BBQ steak burger

BBQ steak burger

really enjoyed my meal and couldn’t fault it at all.

Dan on the other hand didn’t enjoy his main course – the BBQ steak burger. This was your typical steak burger topped with cheese, but with the addition of a mini mountain of pulled BBQ beef. Although this was what lured Dan in, the BBQ sauce used in the pulled beef had a very unusual tang, and we couldn’t quite place the extra flavourings. It was still sweet, but in a weird way, and unfortunately, it ruined the burger for him. Needless to say, I made him jealous with my choice instead.

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie

Ploughing through, I couldn’t leave without sampling dessert, so I opted for a classic Banoffee Pie, not something I have often, but something I occasionally get huge cravings for. Served in a round, the biscuit base was sticky and buttery, topped with a toffee layer, then lashings of blobs of cream, finished with neat slices of caramelised banana. Although very lovely, I wouldn’t say it was a standout dessert – it hit the sweet spot and was tasty though.P1030598

One thing to note however, was that although my meal was wonderful and I enjoyed the food, the service we experienced was absolutely appalling – I could have brought the food out quicker myself. Considering we arrived at Miller and Carter gone 8pm on a Wednesday evening, it wasn’t exactly a prime dining out slot. Granted, the restaurant was busy and thriving, but there was nowhere near enough waiting staff working that night. The front of house manager had to serve us our drinks as our waitress forgot to bring them, and she spent a lot of the evening attending us in our waitress’s absence as we were placed near the front of the restaurant. We had to wait ages for each course, let alone try and attempt getting drinks in between courses. Needless to say, we were not forthcoming with any tip.

P1030600Because of the poor service, I have a very mixed final opinion of Miller and Carter. Although on the higher end of the price spectrum, I enjoyed my food – it showcased classic dishes with a sprinkle of imagination and a thoughtfulness regarding texture which, as a diner, I appreciated. I’m a sucker for a nice cocktail menu, so that drew me in too, and although I would be tempted to go again for the food, I’m not sure the bad service is enough to lure me back in to pay that kind of money. If that was a Wednesday, I dread to think what attending on the weekend would entail.

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