The best things about having your birthday when you’re working at a school is that you can lesson plan with your friends at the party.
No, work’s just better when you’re friendly with your co-workers. We went out to celebrate a dearly beloved pal’s birthday at Miller and Carter in Newbury Park. Reservations were made, ties were loosened and we played pool in anticipation of the steak to come.
Jack and I enjoyed a sharing platter (£12.95) which included smoked barbecue ribs, cheesy baked mushrooms, deep-fried calamari, chipotle and honey chicken wings, nachos, sweet potato fries and garlic bread. For all the variety that was offered the dish did not overwhelm, although we certainly felt spoiled. The baked mushrooms were probably the most difficult to share (one scoop for me and one scoop for you?) and both of us found the chicken and ribs a bit dry and overly dependent on sauce for flavour. The fries, calamari and toast were, however, as crispy as could be and presentation was lovely.
We both found to our chagrin that we had finished our appetizer too quickly, as the salad and main entree took some time to arrive, but when they did both came quickly together. The salad was simply iceberg lettuce with a light honey mustard and bacon bits, but ’twas particularly refreshing because of all the deep-fried nibbles we had consumed earlier. Jack was also thankful that although the menu advertised the salad as having Stilton and blue cheese, the aroma of said cheese was delicate and refrained from overwhelming even the lettuce.
Jack’s 8 oz rump steak with a creamy mushroom chasseur (13.50) arrived before mine and he had no problem tucking in, although we all took our sweet time to finish because the portions were so generous. Each steak came topped with parsley butter and accompanied by a baked onion loaf, glazed beef tomato and even more fries. Somebody help.
I was a bit more indulgent (as if I needed to be!) and decided to try the fillet wellington with Béarnaise sauce (£18.95), a prime fillet steak layered with pate, mushrooms and wrapped in puff pastry. Instead of fries I opted for the mashed potatoes, which caused a bit of regret as they were neither nicely mashed (someone couldn’t be bothered, I suppose) and tasteless as well. The Béarnaise sauce similarly lacked in taste, being more butter than anything else. And the prime star of the plate (see what I did there?) was okay at best. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, what with the beef wellington having a somewhat bloody taste from the pâté, less mushrooms than I had hoped for and beef that was slightly overcooked. In fact, the only component that I enjoyed on the plate was the onion loaf, and even after a few bites that became simply too heavy for me to finish. I was ashamed to say that I did not finish my dish because it became too heavy too quickly.
We all finished the meal extremely satisfied (no one could even think of dessert!) and were one of the last parties to leave. For the most part it had been a good birthday party, but the company was most certainly better than the food.
Miller and Carter Newbury Park
Aldborough Road North, Ilford
Greater London, IG2 7TD
020 8590 1281
Pros: This restaurant offers a cozy and friendly environment as well as excellent service. Appetizers and salads in general are also tasty and overall well done.
Cons: Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the main entree. The food is not awful, but every component lacked a little something that affected the dish as a whole.
I’ve heard it said that British cooking is bland and that Britons overcook their meat, but places like The White Horse teach me this is not true. Unfortunately Miller & Carter have yet to prove this as well. The improvements they could make are small but would make a massive difference, so until then I would not recommend this place.