Miller and Carter, Mailbox

The Mailbox has been a pleasure all summer. Late night drinks by the canalside, lazy afternoon lunches and morning coffees, a soiree or two at The Cube

Miller & Carter moved in about 18 months ago with its offering of good steaks, meats, seafood and other hearty treats for the hungry. It has a full bar, too, and a substantial cocktail list, so we thought it could do with a review. Miller & Carter is a chain, but I am not too snobby about these things. I fully support start-up entrepreneurs, but if they have an idea which is good, why not roll it out?

LUNCH FOR TWO

 Lady Card and I rolled in for lunch and got a seat by the window overlooking the canals, yuppie flats and Hyatt hotel. Had it been warmer, I might have taken a table outside, but by the time you’ll be reading this we will be in October, so it’s probably best that I didn’t. I had a glass of Rioja served at room temperature, Lady C ordered a Cosmopolitan. Now here’s the thing about Lady C – she knows her Cosmos. She’s drunk more of them than Carrie Bradshaw and says that M&C does a good one – so a good one it does.

 For main I had a sirloin steak with Béarnaise sauce, a big bowl of fries and an onion and tomato relish. The steak had a good, deep flavour – it had been hung for 28 days and it showed. They also brought over an iceberg lettuce wedge topped with mayonnaise and parmesan. It was a hearty man’s meal, the sort of thing you’d want after a long day’s graft. I was glad we skipped starters, as I doubt we would have made it. Meanwhile, Lady C had mussels, which she enjoyed, although once they got her Cosmo right, they were on the home straight to victory.

JUST DESSERTS

 M&C’s desserts are not all made in-house, although one which is, the Crème Brulee, is worth a try. We also had an apple and custard crumble tart, which was nice enough, but nothing to write home about. This was served with some reasonable coffee from our friendly waitress. According to the menu, the restaurant’s staff do keep their tips, and so you can reward them for the attentions.

IN THE RIGHT PLACE

 Probably the best thing about M&C premises is the location. It’s a prime spot in the centre of town with a good view of the city. The interior is a bit Americana and a bit airport waiting lounge. The tables are wooden with no linen, the ceiling is deliberately exposed to reveal all the wirings. Meanwhile, the kitchen is open for all to see, which can be a good experience if it’s a really exciting-looking place – flaming pans, charismatic chefs magicking up wonders, screaming lobsters trying to leap out of the pot. But M&C’s is just an ordinary kitchen with young chefs milling around doing their chores, and I didn’t need to see it. But what it lacks in wow factor it makes up for in cow factor. Everywhere you look, there are picture of cows, cartoons of cows and, of course, cow on the menu of every kind: rump, sirloin, fillet, rib eye, Chateaubriand, Wellington, Porterhouse and more.

THE RIGHT PRICE?

 All in all, Miller and Carter is a decent sort of place to go if you’re hungry, thirsty and fancy a good, slap-up meal. It has decent standards, which are to be appreciated, and having a UK chain dedicated to good meats is no bad thing. Miller and Carter is mid-market dining done well, striking a balance between affordability and quality, most main steaks and meats being in the £15-20 price range. There’s also a decent range of fish dishes and pastas, which are a little cheaper. I didn’t love it, but I did like it and I’d go again, if only for the cow factor.

Miller & Carter, 178-180 Wharfside Street, Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RN www.millerandcarter.co.uk