There seems to be a fascination with serving great slabs of beef in Leeds at the moment with plenty of steakhouses fetching up in all quarters of the city.
With that in mind we thought we’d better find out what all the fuss was about.
Among the many to choose from we opted for Miller and Carter who have two branches in Leeds, one in Garforth and one halfway down the Headrow, the subject of our review this week.
We duly turned up at the appointed hour and found the place almost empty, although to be honest it was 6.30pm and still early so we won’t hold that against them.
The decor is pleasant, lots of wood panelling and smartly turned out staff. The lighting was not overly bright and made for a nice ambience and the music was most definitely to our taste, a mix of blues, soft rock and country.
We’d arrived bang on time and as our waitress Eve, showed us to our window seat - essential for people-watching - we mentioned that we were in a hurry as we’d got to be on our way by 7.45pm to catch a show at Leeds Town Hall just around the corner. She promised to do all she could to expedite our order in double-quick time.
To kick off what we felt sure was going to be a memorable evening we decided to order a couple of cocktails. Mourning the imminent onset of winter I went for a summer sling with Bombay Sapphire, elderflower, mango, mint and apple juice with a splash of lemonade; my companion for a Mojito made with fresh lime, mint and sugar with Bacardi Superior Rum and topped with soda. Usually £6.95 and £7.95 they were both on offer for £4.95 - I like a bargain. Eve brought us a bottle of tap water without us having to request one which was a nice touch.
While waiting for the food to arrive we spent a companionable 10 minutes or so watching the life of Leeds pass by. Although not yet Halloween there were plenty of revellers kicking of the festivities and among other oddities were a wobbly witch or two making their way from pub to pub along the Headrow.
True to her word our starters arrived promptly. We’d chosen to share a plate of nachos (£.7.95) but on reflection wished we’d been a bit more adventurous and picked the sharing platter at £12.95 instead which promised a real mixture of ribs, mushrooms, chicken wings and garlic bread, among other things. The nachos themselves were crispy and very tasty but were sparsely coated with the salsa, guacamole and sour cream and became very dry as we burrowed our way to the bottom of the plate,
The remnants of the nachos were soon removed and the main event began. Now, neither I nor my companion are particularly au fait with the different types of steak so it was left up to Eve to educate us as to the whys and wherefores of each cut. After ascertaining how we liked our steak cooked she recommended a 12oz ribeye for me (£19.50) and an 8oz sirloin (£16.95) for my companion. We were asked to nominate a steak sauce and a salad dressing from a comprehensive list. To our surprise Eve returned with a quarter of head of iceberg lettuce in a bowl for each of us which had been drizzled with our preferred sauce - a really bizarre concept that I’ve not encountered before, apparently it’s an American idea that has made its way over here, like so many other things. It’s my fault I suppose, I saw the wedge dressings on the menu and failed to notice that it referred to a wedge of lettuce rather than the expected fried chunks of potato.
Not sure though if this was a pre-curser to the steak or just an early accompaniment we eyed them suspiciously and made tentative stabs with our steak knives.
The steaks themselves, when they followed soon after, were of a generous size and had been cooked precisely as requested. The evil-looking steak knives were hardly needed as the meat was so tender they cut through like they were butter. A side order of crispy onion loaf and a slice of beef tomato provided the trimmings, the fries served separately in a tin pot.
Miller and Carter claim on their website that their beef is aged for 30 days to provide succulence before the steaks are then hand cut by their own butchers. I’m not sure how much difference this makes but they must be doing something right as both steaks were delicious and I quite forgave the lettuce accompaniment - which was incidentally, sent back largely untouched.
Although steak is obviously the main reason you’d visit a steakhouse there are plenty of other dishes to choose from. Handmade burgers with a variety of toppings, roast or barbecued chicken and glazed lamb rump and a tentative nod in the direction of the vegetarians and pescetarians with sea bass, salmon, asparagus and pea risotto and nut salad with goats cheese.
In the interests of fair reporting we felt that we should check out the desserts as well although, to be honest, we were both a little full and it would have been prudent to decline.
However, undaunted we vowed to at least peruse the menu and eventually decided we’d go for the lemon meringue roulade for me and creme brulee for my guest. As expected the brulee came with no surprises and was deemed tasty but the roulade was altogether too sweet and rich and, though not unpleasant, by any means, I just wasn’t able to finish it. What did impress me though was that it came with freshly whipped cream - none of that synthetic stuff from a can, if you please.
Although we’d have liked to have stayed for a coffee and to relax for a few minutes more, time was pressing and we had to cut and run.
By the time we left at 7.40pm a few more diners had drifted in but it was by no means full which is a shame as the meat is good and the prices are fair - it’s just a shame about the lettuce.
Address: 56-58 The Headrow
Opening times: Noon to 10.30pm
Tel: 0113 244 3583