As I studied the menu, I wondered if hotel giant Mitchells and Butlers had regretted the day they failed to sign up a budding rock band.
The reason this crossed my mind was that I was at the Miller & Carter steakhouse in Aberdeen, which is a chain within the same business empire.
The young musicians seemed confident of landing a sponsorship with Birmingham brewers Mitchells and Butlers, as was the case at the time.
They even had special names for the band to reflect their backers.
I think the “MB” and “MB Five” were used.
Either way, the deal fell through and the band went down a different path as pioneers of progressive rock, the Moody Blues – and the rest is history, as they say.
My wife was tapping her fingers across the table, but not to a Moody Blues classic.
It was a sure sign that it was time to stop telling him that story and focus on ordering something to eat.
Miller & Carter
Miller & Carter was really great and it was still only 6:30 on a Friday night.
It was so busy that we had to shout to be heard through our table for two.
But that didn’t bother us; we prefer a friendly and noisy atmosphere in the restaurant.
“Pandemic? What pandemic? came to mind as I looked around.
No masks these days, but lots of close contact.
But we humans move fast when the way is clear, don’t we? It’s like the end of a war with all that pent up tension collapsing.
It’s a modern restaurant, but I like the sleek decor, dim lighting and nooks and crannies.
It was a relief to be seated in our little corner, in a narrow gallery on one side, which overlooked Broad Street, with the Aberdeen townhouse towering over the road.
We booked online but forgot to fill in the little box for special requests – like our seat preference for the Broad Street side.
But that seemed easy to fix: our email booking confirmation said we could phone the restaurant directly for any changes, such as requests.
I then spent two days calling intermittently with no joy – a friendly recorded voice kept saying they were too busy to answer the phone.
Eventually I called Consumer Services in Birmingham to see if they could forward our special booking request.
They duly obliged as someone from the Aberdeen restaurant emailed a few hours later saying they had received our request for a seat.
And as we arrived in the evening, we were guided straight to the table we wanted, so that was pretty good, although we knew they couldn’t always oblige.
I said the restaurant was busy, but the menu was even busier.
There was a lot going on here, including a list of pre-starters, or nibbles as they call them.
So of the appetizers we ordered a bread board to share.
This included thin, crispy bread sticks and slices with dipping sauces, one with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and the other a concoction of butter and dripping beef – quite appropriate in a steakhouse where there must be an endless supply of dripping.
It was very good and we enjoyed it very much.
When our server came back he assumed we were skipping entrees because he had asked for our main order.
But he didn’t know what appetites he was dealing with: we also ordered appetizers.
For me, king prawns sautéed with garlic, and for my wife, shrimp and crab cocktail with Bloody Mary sauce.
They turned out to be tasty little dishes, but perhaps lacking a bit in size and substance – a little disappointing at almost £9 each.
Perhaps these little guys were overwhelmed by the main event – the prodigious array of steaks on offer.
They are, after all, what customers come for in bulk.
Just about any steak or sharing plate was catered for here – from the tenderloin to the massive 28-ounce Cote de Boeuf.
Steaks span the menu – like cattle ranches as far as the eye can see in Texas.
As a special treat, my wife chose the Black Angus filet mignon.
Not only was he served the finest cut of steak, but also the juiciest breed of cattle.
For me, hake; yes hake.
I half expected a silence to fall while ordering fish in this temple dedicated to the worship of meat. But not at all – they have an alternative menu without steak.
And my chef must have appreciated the change because the hake dish was excellent.
A generous, meaty fillet of shiny white fish, with crispy seasoned skin, layered over creamy mash, spinach and a mushroom and white wine sauce. A side dish of rich, meaty chorizo slices rounded out the dish nicely.
My wife’s two five-ounce fillets were also excellent, but she couldn’t handle both, so I ate one. It was a beauty, but I know what you’re thinking: such a sweet tooth.
Unfortunately, my wife ordered bearnaise sauce by mistake, but really wanted bordelaise.
So our server rushed in for a replacement, which was a nice touch.
We finished with banoffee pie and tiramisu; both were thankfully on the tricky side, after a big main meal, but somewhat overpowered by dollops of cream.
We both agreed that Miller & Carter provided a great atmosphere and great service.
The main courses were superb and there was a wide choice on the menu, but the starters and puddings weren’t that impressive – and overall a bit pricey in these difficult times.
As they left, Italian visitors posed for photos at the townhouse. Another sign of normalcy, which was another reason to be grateful.
David Knight has reviewed restaurants for the press and newspaper for nearly two decades.
He is a former associate editor at P&J and now works as a columnist for the title.
Address: Miller & Carter, 26 Union Street, Aberdeen AB10 1BD
P: 01224 531074
Price: £111.40 for three courses for two plus a breadboard, side dish, two alcoholic drinks and two soft drinks
- Food: 4/5
- Performance: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5
Already subscribed? Login
[Only the best at Aberdeen’s Miller & Carter]