I came across this opening evening at the new Miller & Carter by chance, on Tuesday evening, 7th February.
After walking down the Oracle riverside, Reading on the way to Cote, I noticed the boards once covering the Old Orleans restaurant had been removed to reveal was rather homely looking new Restaurant; Miller & Carter Steakhouse.
The thought of a good steak was too tempting and upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by what I assumed was a front of house manager and a member of the waiting staff, who advised us that this was their first night open to the public, that it was a taster evening and that all menu items were half price. So, as someone who’s up for trying new things, is always ready to accept a good deal and was after a subject for my next blog post, I took a table.
The restaurant was very busy, with only a few tables available and we were shown to a table on the right hand side of the restaurant with a direct view of the very busy kitchen hatch which was visible as part of an open plan service area.
As I said, the restaurant had a homely feel, warm decor, bordered sofa seating and standard compfy chairs alongside large wooden tables. The best way to describe was a cross between a strada & smart american diner with soft lighting. I liked it, though I suspect it’s the sort of place, like Browns next door, that looks very different in the day to the dark evenings.
After being handed a menu we waited for around 10mins for our waitress to return and take both our drinks and food order.
I ordered, as one would expect, a Rum & coke, though the choice of Rums seemed limited, so I settled for a double Captain Morgans
For Starter I ordered; The Pair of Queen Scallops
For Main; 8oz Fillet Steak (medium rare), Seasoned Fries, BBQ Sauce
After waiting about 20mins, the Scallops arrived. I had wrongly assumed, as it was described as a Pair, that Queen Scallops were large. I was presented with 6 very small scallops in half shells and upon asking the waitress, who seemed a little confused by my question, one of the managers who was close by interjected to advise that Queen Scallops were the smallest and that following confusion & feedback, the restaurant had decided to serve 6 scallops and not just 2.
The scallops were served in a garlic butter and although small, were tasty, succulent and a nice entrée.
Following the starter we waited…. looking over at the kitchen hatch there seemed to be a lot of food waiting to be served and the service area seemed to always be busy with waiting staff not serving a lot of food, so I can only assume the kitchen was having some difficulty with coordinating orders on the opening night. After about 30 – 35 minutes the waitress came to the table and apologised for the wait and advised our order would be ready in “3 or 4 minutes…”, about 10mins later 3 waitress’ came to the table carrying the steaks, presented in large bowl shaped plates and a wooden board with 3 place moulds containing the fries, my hickory smoked sauce and a 3rd bowl, that I wasn’t expecting, which contained a large onion rosti.
While waiting for the mains and seeing food sat waiting to be served, my thoughts turned to wonder whether our Steaks would be sat under the heat of the serving area and emerge dry or overcooked… however, when brought to the table the Steak WAS worth the wait, it was pretty much the perfect fillet. Not an ounce of fat, it was juicy, succulent, very well cooked and was exactly as I ordered. The fries were lovely, crispy but flurry with a light southern seasoning and the Onion rosti was also a delicious nice surprise. The hickory sauce, although nice was a bit heavy for the delicate flavour of the fillet steak, maybe it was a bad call by me and the sauce would have been better suited to a more rustic cut, such as a Rump or T-Bone, so sparingly put a taste of the Hickory as I cut slices from the mouhwatering and tender steak.
After finishing the main, I felt satisfyingly full. The waitress brought over the dessert menu, which I had already decided I wasn’t going have, but then cast my eye down the list of delicious looking desserts and was won over by the Baked Alaska and a macchiato
At this point, the restaurant was somewhat emptier and the dessert and coffee arrived within 5mins.
It was as I had hoped, delicious, and although I didn’t need the dessert it was a nice end to the evening and as all the food was half price I thought why not.
So overall, after ordering, it took approximately an hour & 10mins to be served our main course… which, while I acknowledge and appreciate this was an opening trial night, it was quite clear the kitchen was the weak link keeping up with the demand. But once it arrived, it was a fantastic steak and the best I’d had in a long while. I really hope the service was down to just teething problems and once settled in, the Miller & Carter Steakhouse could definitely become a favourite and a restaurant I would visit on the affluent Oracle Riverside, Reading. It was a warm welcoming venue and all the staff, though some seemed quite new, were enthusiastic and friendly.