Review: Miller & Carter, Coventry
August 29, 2023

[Disclosure: We were given a £100 voucher towards a meal at Miller & Carter for the purposes of this blog]

‘Independents good, chains bad’ tends to be a generalisation we all easily adopt. And it can often seem true.  Not always – there are certain chains we go to for cheap, consistent food and it always delivers. It might not be authentic, delicious, or a memorable experience, but it ticks the box.

But in many cases, the high-volume, big business attitude of chains can so often leave us disappointed, whether it’s with the quality of food we’re served, or the sheer lack of love. The ‘restaurant’ experiences that feel far from it and leave us feeling a bit empty.

In contrast, it’s easy to feel like independents are full of love, turning out great food with soul and personality, and service to match.

Yet we all know, deep down, that it’s never simple. Not all independents are amazing, and not all chains are rubbish. Some do what they do pretty well – and Miller & Carter is one of those. I’ve been a few times now, and while it might never compete with some of the big-name steakhouses or niche places, it ticks all the boxes of consistency and choice and reasonable pricing – but does all that with a bit of personality, flair and fun.

Miller & Carter

The Miller & Carter in Coventry is on the Kenpas Highway, so just outside the city centre, and has recently had a bit of a revamp. On a random Tuesday we were surprised to find it pretty busy – with the insistence by the staff that that was not busy in the slightest, so props to them if they’re regularly that full.

The menu is, as you’d expect, steak dominant, with a range of cuts aged to various extents as well as sharing cuts like chateaubriand, cote de boeuf, the ‘butcher’s block’ – basically a selection of various steaks – and the cote de boeuf experience which includes a grilled lobster tail, some sides and a bottle of wine.

None are bad value, given the steaks come with parsley butter, balsamic beef tomato, onion loaf, a sauce and a lettuce wedge with your choice of dressing, and it seems to me to be a good way of stopping bills from spiralling out of control if you’ve got a price that covers everything.

On top of all the steak, there are plenty of other choices, from burgers, ribs and lamb to a few fish choices and some veggie options. Tonnes to choose from, which probably explains why the tables around us include couples, families, groups of lads, lone businessmen from the hotel next door enjoying the loveliness of expenses, and more.

Service when we first arrived was a bit slow, but soon sped up and Ann, who looked after us all night, was as warm as she was efficient and didn’t balk at making suggestions or pointing out that one of our steaks might be better cooked a bit longer than we’d asked for.

We started with a mocktail for me and beer for Jamie while I planned my choice from the quite nice-looking wine list. Plenty of US options as well as the classics, and helpful tasting notes on what might work well with which steak. A reminder that at Miller & Carter it’s okay to like steak and wine without needing to be an expert. This is about making it easy for you and I’m here for it.

Halloumi fries
Chicken wings

Starters weren’t knock-out if I’m honest. Buffalo wings were more barbecue than buffalo, though the blue cheese dressing they came with was pretty good. My halloumi fries were okay, but I’ve had better from Street Chef Lloyd who you’ll find at various Digbeth Dining Club events. Crispier, fresher, and just a bit more ‘wow’.

I wouldn’t call either starter bad or not nice, but given the choice again I would have swerved them and focused on the main course which was, quite frankly, great. We went for the butcher’s board which is 27oz of meat and a great way of trying various cuts and ages all in one go.

You get a 50-day aged Black Angus ribeye, a 30-day aged rump, and two 50-day aged fillets. But it doesn’t stop there. A bone marrow filled with rich, unctuous, oozy beef brisket, soaked in the melted marrow and the stuff of dirty dreams.

Miller & Carter butcher's block

There’s all the sides you’d get with any single steak – in our case fries, butter-drenched green veg that was cooked perfectly, that bloody marvellous onion loaf that gets me every time, an extra portion of camembert mash which is pretty much manna from heaven, and the lettuce wedge which brings a palate-cleansing refreshment unless you’re greedy like me and order yours with a blue cheese dressing so it just adds to the artery-clogging, bliss-inducing richness.

And don’t forget to do the same with the sauces you order – I can recommend the beef-dripping one for good measure.Miller & Carter lettuce wedge

Miller & Carter
Miller & Carter

The steak was all cooked brilliantly – each and every cut that’s stacked up on that board like a meat-lover’s dream, framed by our massive steak knives in a comedy-meets-carnivore manner.

Each was tasty, succulent, charred just right and rested just right. Because just as we shouldn’t look down on chains per se, we shouldn’t look down on the chefs that work in them. Plenty have probably got as much talent as others out there – they just don’t get the same kudos.

We had a ball comparing and contrasting flavour and textures of the rib eye, rump and fillet, punctuated by forays into the bone marrow bliss, onion loaf, and party of sides that I thought we’d be taking home but somehow didn’t survive either.

Miller & Carter

I’m well aware it was gluttonous and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. And at £71.95 for the butcher’s block – a more than adequate feast without ordering the odd extra side like we did, I don’t think that’s bad value for not only the volume of food, but the quality and the skill in cooking.I don’t know why we had a pudding. I still can’t explain it other than through Jamie’s justification that ice-cream is ‘just a drink’. It’s not, I know. But it’s good. Especially when it’s decent quality and served with a cookie. Because some things don’t need messing with.

Ice cream sundae

I’m aware there are better steak places than Miller & Carter. Independents doing wonderful, carefully-sourced meat with unique wines and hugely personal service. Small groups that have made names for themselves as the best in the business, hence their popularity. I’ve tried one or two and yes, they’re special experiences.

But that doesn’t mean that what Miller & Carter does isn’t good. It is. It’s tasty food, served in a nice environment that’s the right balance of relaxed and buzzy, and it’s reasonably priced. It’s accessible in so many ways, from price to atmosphere to choice, providing a decent restaurant experience that’s not only affordable, but comfortable and fun too.

Eating out isn’t just the preserve of people with bulging wallets or those of us who are lucky to get invited places for free. It should be for everyone, and places like Miller & Carter have a part to play in a hospitality world that should cater for everyone. They do what they do, and they do it bloody well. So you won’t hear me turning my back on this particular chain any time soon.

[Disclosure: We were given a £100 voucher towards a meal at Miller & Carter for the purposes of this blog]