Some introductions; reader, meet Miller & Carter, “Experts in the steak experience”. Miller & Carter, meet some lovers of burgers.
I’ve eaten at 1 Miller Carter a few times, the flagship restaurant in The Hayes in the centre of Cardiff, and been mightily impressed with pretty much everything. Their Fillet Wellington was/is stunning, their sirloin and ribeye steaks are succulent and have always been cooked to my liking. The onion loaf that accompanies the steaks is also something that would make it onto my “Last Day on Death Row” menu. Tonight I would be dining at Cardiff’s original Miller & Carter, in The Bay area.
Whilst this wasn’t official Super Burger Bro business, I felt obliged to try one of the burgers that I’d always looked at, but ignored, for over a year. That and that I really fancied a burger.
The place was very busy, I’m not sure if everyone else had been tempted in by the extended offer of 2 courses for £15, but there are restaurants that would love this amount of covers at the weekend, let alone a cold Tuesday night at the beginning of February.
A handmade burger, made with a 30 day aged, premium-graded, British steak from carefully selected cattle, accompanied in a seeded bun, with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese, crisp iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato and 3 rashers of crispy streaky bacon; that’s what you get, and that was what I wanted. The waitress toddled off with everyone’s order. With 4 burgers ordered from a group of 10, the chances of food envy were reduced.
The wait was made bearable by the fact that this was a friend’s birthday celebration, and it brought some people together who hadn’t seen one another for a week or two, so there was plenty to catch up on. The added fact that I had a voucher for a free glass of house wine, made this an almost perfect start to a meal for me.
My wings arrived. 4 wings that tasted just how I’d imagined they would. The skins were crunchy and coated in a wonderful tangy sweet glaze and the meet was soft, juicy and delicious. But here’s my dilemma. The restaurant is a bit “official” if you catch my drift. I was sitting here with chicken wings (obviously, on the bone) covered in a sticky glaze and a dipping sauce……and cutlery?
I didn’t want to show my girlfriend up in front of some of her favourite people, but I don’t like using cutlery with this sort of food; it makes me look and feel like a bit of a moron to be honest! I’m pretty sure I got the nod to carry on with my fingers and dipping the stripped meat and skin into the delightful dip. The contrasts of the blue cheese flavour and the sweet and spicy glaze were like a tastebud version of John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever dance routine on my tongue. If the chef had appeared before me at that moment, I’d have kissed him right on the lips…maybe even patted him on the bum….but he didn’t, so I think everyone is a winner in this instance.
I was excited about the burger now. The meat would be ground from one of their prime burgers on site, hand formed and built just yards from where I sat. So why would it take so long? Grrrrr!!! (Yeah, my wine had long been finished and replaced with a bottle of water; how did you know?)
When the food began to arrive I noticed a visually impressive specimen had been presented to me upon a slate palette/board/not plate. The first thing that stood out to me was the slice of tomato. Yep, tomato slice that had been chopped in a jaunty fashion (strange angle), it was like a wedge. I still can’t work out if it was deliberately done in order to make the burger sit at an angle. I took it out; it was, as they say in some parts of the world, mahoosive. I’ve seen some burgers smaller than this slice of confused fruit. I put it back in.
I inspected the burger again, it was a large patty. The kind that doesn’t take up the full diameter of the bun, but instead focussed on being one of those tall burgers you see sometimes. Burgers like this generally don’t make it into my favourites list; would this one?
It was well browned on the outside and had some caramelisation/charring going on. It tasted very meaty, as you’d expect, and had been quite finely ground. It was pinkish in the middle, as I like, and had retained some juices, so it kept its shape without crumbling. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the patty had been seasoned, if it had, it was far too subtle for me to pick up on, especially as I had a semi-melted slice of Monterey Jack on there and some crispy streaky bacon slices in there too.
There wasn’t much to say about the cheese. It was okay, there was just about enough of it there. The bacon was another subtly flavoured addition. It was, however, very crunchy, which I would have been happy with had it not been for the bun.
The bun was of the white, seed-topped variety and looked the business. But I’m not here to wax lyrical on the virtues of a well presented burger; we’re far less shallow than that. The bun was dried out and hard. It out-crunched my very crunchy bacon. If I had seen the chef at this point, I’d have done that well known thing that mums do. You know, when they look at you after you’ve been caught doing something that you shouldn’t have done and say, in the calmest, serial-killer-esque voice, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.”
I consoled myself with my skin on fries and dipped it into my homemade fry sauce (I mixed my ketchup and my mayo. I also didn’t make it at home; that would be weird. I made it there, with their ketchup and mayo)
This is a new thing for me. Not broccoli in general, but broccoli in coleslaw. It was not only new to me; it was confusing to me. I decided rather quickly that it was also wrong. You can decide for yourself, but for me this was the equivalent of topping your favourite ice-cream with brown sauce. There’s a time and a place for stuff, and this was neither the time nor the place for little green trees!
Overall, I have to admit to being disappointed, and this disappointment doesn’t even take into account my girlfriend’s poor sea bass dish, which looked outstanding on the menu, however they failed to mention that the fish had probably met its end through drowning in olive oil on the plate.
My words of wisdom to anyone out there looking for a burger….try somewhere else. I can’t help but think that Miller and Carter were trying to teach me a lesson. The lesson being that if you go to a really good Steakhouse and order anything other than a steak, then you shouldn’t have gone there. My Miller & Carter dining choices from now on will consist of steaks. Their Bacon & Cheese Burger gets 3 out of 5.