For such an eagerly-awaited and overdue dining experience to Peterborough’s restaurant scene it’s surprising how familiar the new Middletons Steakhouse feels. The concept isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination, with “steak houses” commonplace in towns and cities across the UK but somehow Peterborough city centre has lacked a proper steak restaurant (more on this below) for many years.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Middletons brand is some kind of national chain with restaurants across the country. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong… almost. Middletons are a chain, but a relatively young independent one with it’s head office in Norfolk (Middleton – hence the name) just outside of King’s Lynn. So whilst at the time of writing they have seven restaurants, you can be sure your pound is supporting the local economy.
Wait, is this really Peterborough’s first steakhouse?
I confess to being a bit creative with my definition of a steakhouse here. Certainly Peterborough has it’s fair share of restaurants that serve steak on the menu. We also have restaurants across the city that operate in the steakhouse space and yes, we also have another recently-opened steakhouse just across Cathedral Square… but to my knowledge Middletons is the first to tick all my steakhouse boxes:
- A variety of steaks and more adventurous cuts, meat with good provenance;
- A city-centre location;
- and an alcohol licence.
On that last point of an alcohol licence, whilst I’m not suggesting that you need to drink alcohol to enjoy food I do think that steaks and other grilled meats are great when paired with a good wine or beer.
Middletons menu is predictably based around their steak – it’s literally the front and centre on the page but there are also a respectable number of options for seafood, grills and burgers. Back to the steak and fillet, sirloin, and rib-eye are all available here but so are porterhouse and on-the-bone rib-eye cuts for the discerning diner. Middletons are also proud of the provenance of their meat, butchering it at their own farm in Kings Lynn so they can ensure only the best cuts make it to their kitchens,
With large cuts available it’s understandable that these probably aren’t options for those dining on a budget but don’t fear as the fixed-price menu has you covered. For under £10 (and before 6pm) you get three courses from a handful of dishes. Whilst this isn’t going to be the same “Middletons experience” without the flagship big steak cuts, the fixed-price choices are varied enough that you can have a great meal and a drink and still have change from £15. This kind of aggressive pricing is clever and might worry the likes of nearby Bill’s, Argo Lounge, Wildwood and Cote Brasserie.
To start, we ordered a portion of the ribs and one of the sausages. That’s right, one of the starters is just a dish of sausages – and what a brilliant starter it is too! Served with a little mustard (I would have preferred a much punchier mustard – probably an option, I didn’t think to ask) it was just simplicity in itself.
Mains were obviously going to be steak. A rib-eye for me and fillet for my dining guest. This is where the great ingredients shine through with steak cooked to perfection with no frills. The meat was wonderfully tender and full of flavour, very deserving of being the centrepiece of the meal.
As a garnish there were the usual mushroom and tomato, along with a pot of mushy (more like “crushed” perhaps?) peas. If I’m trying to be critical then the peas were a let down for me. When it comes to mushy peas I like them chip-shop style or not at all. I’m sure they balance the plate out but I wouldn’t bother with them next time – they only distract from the fantastic steak!
On a side-note (pun intended), the fries here are really, really good. Less really is more here so personally I would ignore the sweet potato fries and wedges and stick with the anything-but-standard fries.
I mentioned the drinks earlier and clearly Middleton’s wine buyers are loving life with more than a dozen reds and several whites along with rose and sparkling wines on the menu. This is a serious wine menu and it really works with the protein-centric food menu. There’s also the obligatory cocktail menu and a selection of beers although on the beer front I feel they’re missing a trick with none of the trendy IPAs doing the rounds elsewhere. I mean, if you’ve got a beard and wear checked shirts then realistically what else are you going to drink?
Excellent quality food, great service, no nonsense.
Guess who’s back… back again!
Since the initial visit (courtesy of Eat Peterborough), myself and my dining colleagues have been back a few more times – purely in the interest of, well… eating great food.
The early-doors set menu was particularly good value with the burger proving to be a reliable choice. More ribs, more steaks and more desserts have all been put away without any concerns (other than the waistline), giving the impression the restaurant has been long-established and not at all like a new restaurant opening.
Inside and out
The Middletons designers have done a fantastic job transforming a couple of tired units into a smart, modern – if a little safe, restaurant. I suppose the designers could only do so much with typical retail units but other Middletons in the chain are in historic coaching inns or Grade II listed buildings, where the buildings have so much more character.
Given that the restaurant boasts around 230 covers in total, it feels much smaller inside with the dining areas divided by the bar / entrance area. The basement level has seating for around 50 diners making it ideal for private groups. On a visit it was a bit disconcerting as you felt like you were being shown to a table by the toilets but otherwise it was business as usual.
My initial I visit was during the “soft-launch” preview week so I expected that inevitably there would be some teething issues, that’s the whole purpose of the soft-launch after all. But given that the restaurant had only been open for one day I was surprised to see no chaos in the kitchen, or disarray front of house. The waiting staff I spoke to seemed genuinely enthusiastic and excited to be working for such a high-profile independent restaurant.
This is good, right?
Let there be no doubt, I think Middleton’s has fitted very neatly into the Peterborough restaurant scene. It offers something that oddly isn’t available elsewhere, at least not to the same level of completeness. It’s not another pizza restaurant, it’s not another dessert bar. It’s a familiar, tried-and-tested format that restaurateurs seem to have overlooked.
Excellent quality food, great service, no nonsense. Make a visit to Middleton’s for your next meal out.
9-15 Bridge Street,
Peterborough , PE1 1HJ
Opening times: Mon-Sun: 11:30am – 11pm