Having raved about Miller & Carter, DANIEL ANGELINI checks out the restaurant’s new Swindon branch

SWINDON’S swankiest new restaurant has enjoyed high demand since opening less than a month ago.

The new Miller & Carter steakhouse opened in a great location in Drove Road, halfway between Old Town and the town centre.

I’d been to the chain’s Cardiff restaurant several times back in my Welsh homeland and was singing its praises to my housemates when I heard that it was coming to Swindon.

So I hoped that this branch would live up to my lofty expectations and not disappoint the housemate who I’d convinced to come along after gushing about how good my past experiences at Miller & Carter were.

As luck would have it, we’d booked a table on a Thursday, the one day of the week which has a three-course set menu that costs £25 a person, so we could have a nice dinner in a fairly fancy restaurant without breaking the bank.

We wore something smart-casual to adhere to the dress code, found a parking space, wandered past the metal bull sculpture by the entrance and waited to be seated.

It was pretty packed inside — booking in advance seemed not just wise but entirely necessary.

The evening didn’t get off to the best of starts as we waited for quite some time before anyone came to greet us, trying several times to catch the eye of staff hurrying around during their busiest time of the day. However, this proved to be the only nitpick of the night, as the rest of our evening went very smoothly.

My housemate was impressed by how clean everything was and I liked that the restaurant was open enough that we could see most of it and the kitchen from our table but at the same time it felt cosy and intimate because of the carefully-calibrated lighting (not bright, but not dim) and lots of reds, purples and dark wood-panelling.

There was a constant background murmur of chatter and chuckles and clinking glasses and cutlery which created a rather nice atmosphere.

Our friendly waitress Dina quickly appeared to get us some drinks - I had a Diet Coke and my housemate had a gin and tonic (it had been a long day at work, apparently).

I ordered some salt and pepper calamari with lemon aioli to start (£6.75) while my housemate had the baked cheddar mushrooms (£5.75).

Despite being a notoriously fussy eater, I really enjoyed the crispy calamari and made a note to order it next time (there will definitely be a next time).

When I asked the housemate if he was enjoying his starter, he just nodded vigorously as he didn’t want to stop eating long enough to actually talk, which was a good sign.

Then we both ordered an 8oz sirloin steak (£18.50) cooked medium-well with lettuce in a honey mustard and bacon dressing, and a steak sauce (British beef dripping for me, cracked peppercorn for him).

All their prime steaks are served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of onion loaf and a balsamic glazed tomato.

Though not normally one of those people who take pictures of their food in restaurants, I couldn’t resist getting my phone out this time as it was presented in such a neat and appetising way.

The steak was juicy and tender and cooked perfectly, which is what you’d hope for from a steakhouse really but it’s not always a given, plus the iceberg lettuce was crisp and cold and the fries were plentiful.

Our eyes were occasionally drawn to another customer sat near us who was tucking into an enormous chunk of on-the-bone beef, which could have been a whopping 18oz ribeye or a 16oz T-bone (both £25.95).

Almost full to bursting after finishing our mains in near-silence, we relaxed happily and I was pleased to hear my housemate say that the meal had surpassed the high bar I’d set by recommending it so enthusiastically beforehand.

There was just enough room for a dessert so we opted for the three scoops of Silverpail ice cream slathered in chocolate sauce with a chewy chocolate chip cookie (£4.75).

It sounds rather odd to recommend, of all things, the cookie in the ice cream dessert at a steak restaurant but it really was lovely, and a perfect end to an impressive meal.

Throughout our time at Miller & Carter, we regularly saw staff wander into the kitchen and ring a bell, which would prompt everyone else in the kitchen to let out a little cheer.

We couldn’t quite figure out why until our waitress Dina explained that the bell is rung every time a customer gives positive feedback about the food.

She then asked how our meals were and, of course, we told her they were great and then waited eagerly to hear the bell and the cheers which, though it may have been our imaginations, seemed to be louder than usual this time.

Miller & Carter Swindon

Drove Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN1 3AG


Parking: Yes

Disabled access: Yes

Our ratings:

Food: 9/10

Choice: 8/10

Décor: 9/10

Customer service: 7/10

Main course prices: £10.95 to £25.95

TripAdvisor: 4.5/5