I’m playing catch up on reviews a little. We actually visited the city centre outlet of steak restaurant Miller & Carter back in December 2018, on their opening weekend – but what with Christmas, the baby’s first birthday and everything else that life throws at us, Bristol Bites has taken a bit of a back seat.
You’ve probably noticed that that’s all changing, though, with a flurry of posts in recent days! So here’s what we thought of the place (having already experienced the Cribbs Causeway branch before)…
Located within the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel on College Green, there’s no denying that the place looks like a hotel restaurant. The Miller & Carter team have done their best to give it a steakhouse feel – big comfy leather chairs, cow pictures on the walls and an open plan kitchen at the back pumping out the smell of steak – but there’s no denying the place’s roots. What’s more, we were treated to the added “decoration” of the remains of long-ago-eaten hotel breakfasts strewn across the carpet: it was clear that no cleaning had been done between the breakfast and lunch services.
Since we visited, we’d hope the service is a bit more up to scratch, too. When we arrived, we were treated to a sullen, unsmiling look from the guy on the front desk – and half an hour sitting at our table (which, with a young baby, is an even longer time) before both food and drinks orders were taken. This, despite an enormous number of staff milling around the restaurant.
It gave us a good chance to peruse the menu, if nothing else. While steak is obviously the highlight (ranging from £15.95 for an 8oz rump to £59.95 for the Miller & Carter “Butcher’s Block” sharing steak platter), you’ll also find dishes like burgers, BBQ glazed chicken breasts, ribs, salads, grilled seabass and more. There’s a separate menu for the younger diners, too, as well as various lunch, date night and Sunday dining options.
For us, it was all about the steak. Every steak on the menu comes with a variety of sides: fries, parsley butter, beef tomato, a slice of onion loaf, a lettuce wedge with a choice of dressings, and your choice of steak sauce.
It was a further 35 minutes after ordering before our food arrived at the table…so, was it worth the wait?
Chris’ steak was stunning: a 10oz grass-fed and wonderfully tender Black Angus sirloin (£24.95), served perfectly medium rare and beautifully seasoned. To accompany it, he chose a rich, decadent beef dripping sauce that was eagerly mopped up.
And no complaints about the cooking of my steak, either: my medium 12oz ribeye (£22.95) was cooked exactly how it should be, with a lovely char on the outside – although sadly much of the steak’s flavour was masked by an excess of black pepper. The thick slice of onion loaf was just as tasty as I remember from previous Miller & Carter visits, but very oily – and the Cribbs branch is definitely more generous when it comes to the amount of sauce on their lettuce wedges too. There was barely any crumbled Stilton or creamy blue cheese sauce on mine.
The bearnaise sauce? That was luke-warm but was lovely and generous on the tarragon front. And I’d decided to push the boat out and upgrade to the loaded beef barbacoa fries for an extra £1.50, which promised an aged Cheddar cheese sauce as well as the beef. The meat itself was gorgeous: smoky, sweet and rich, but the cheese was a serious disappointment – like melted down plastic cheese slices, rather than a proper Cheddar. Because of the way in which the chips are served, it meant there was also very little of the barbacoa beef topping, which was a shame. The few tiny lettuce leaves on the plate seemed pretty redundant, too, and the wedge of raw tomato had little, if no, appeal…
We didn’t bother staying for dessert – a fire alarm that seemed impossible to switch off meant that it was way too loud for both us and the baby. And we wouldn’t rush back, either. While we had a pretty good experience, overall, at the Cribbs Causeway branch, but this was an entirely different matter. With so many great steak restaurants just a stone’s throw away – with more exciting dining environments and with similar, if not lower prices – I’m not sure the Marriott’s aim to entice non-resident diners will work if something doesn’t change…