Some things are just meant to be - and I include Saturday’s early evening visit to the £1million Middletons steakhouse and grill in Peterborough city centre in that.
Searching online for the phone number to book a table, I unearthed my original article about the Norfolk-based company’s plans - dated November 11, 2016 - exactly one year ago to the day. How could I go anywhere else after that?
That article, I recalled, and others prompted plenty of “we need a proper steakhouse in Peterborough” type comments on social media in particular. And on the basis of my weekend visit, we have well and truly got one.
It opened in September after the redevelopment of three former shop units - and what a fantasic job they made of it. Contemporary design, modern and stylish without being brash, it is very welcoming and comfortable.
Our table had been reserved in the basement, and as the ground floor already seemed busy at 5.15pm I feared the worst - out of sight, out of mind, lost and forgotten.
I needn’t have worried. It was more than adequately staffed downstairs and we were quickly brought menus and our food and drink orders taken by a young lady who was both courteous and polite while taking into account the needs of our two young girls.
The Middletons Grill (£18.95) was something highlighted in the pre-publicity for the restaurant - so that was temptation enough for me.
It is not the sort of dish that offers up anything in the way of finesse - but it sure looked good when it arrived (although I do wish I had asked for a plate rather than a wooden platter).
The 6oz rib-eye (my choice over sirloin) was an absolute delight - I could have cut it with a butter knife! The piri piri chicken didn’t pack anything of a punch but was soft and tender, not at all dry, while the barbecue ribs - half a dozen - were sweet, sticky and messy, so I was grateful for the wipes which soon followed. The onion rings had crunch and flavour but I was caught out by the chilli and spring onion garnish - well the chilli anyway. Ouch! My jacket potato side dish didn’t disappoint, either - soft and buttery.
Donna enjoyed every bit of her seafood mixed grill (£17.25). The seabass fillet, salmon fillet, prawns, calamari all beautifully cooked, and her mixed bean salad was a real triumph.
The children’s menu is noteworthy, too - three courses and a drink for £4.95. Garlic bread, proper, fresh-made haddock goujons and a minute steak went down a treat with our two, followed by a decent chocolate brownie and ice cream.
The best chain restaurant experience in the city centre for me.
Brad Barnes dines at Middletons Steakhouse and Grill, Bridge Street, Peterborough
Brad’s rating: 9