Last week I was lucky enough to go along to CAU restaurant in Guildford, Surrey. It was a viciously cold evening and as we went in we were greeted by a warm atmosphere, and an even warmer welcome.
CAU`s name, pronounced as `cow`, stands for Carne Argentina Unica, which translates as `unique Argentinian beef`. The name is a witty play on words; a play on words that really sets the tone for a fun and enjoyable dining experience. CAU is a creation by those behind the GAUCHO chain; therefore, we were expecting great quality Argentinian beef and good service. We were not disappointed. But this is where CAU and GAUCHO`s similarities end – the former is a far more relaxed and light hearted affair. This is reflected in a menu that caters for everything from a full on 3 course meal to a quick, yet luxurious, light lunch.
The décor is deliciously suave; a colour scheme of black, white and neon blue is accented by fantastically subtle mood lighting. We immediately felt comfortable and at ease. To be honest, CAU was full of nice little touches which made for a great eating venue. These little touches added up to what was a balanced ambiance, with a cool and sophisticated vibe. In particular, I was rather swung by the CAU-girl and CAU-boy t-shirts worn by the waiting staff, a small touch, but it is one that gave a nice light hearted feel.
We were greeted with two cocktails. I had a Buenos Aires Ice Tea, a twist on the standard Long Island Ice Tea, which included lemon juice, rather than cola. Both cocktails were perfectly blended and balanced, especially the Buenos Aires Ice Tea, which had a great punchy alcoholic back bone.
So, to the food!
Starters range from the healthy option of an Aubergine Lasagne to the house speciality of Yerba-Smoked Beef; Lomito smoked the Argentinian way, in tea with orange, lemon thyme and garlic, dressed with soy and wasabi and served alongside a watercress salad. Delicious! To begin the meal I started with Sesame Salmon, finished with a horseradish sauce and Creole salad. The salmon was cooked brilliantly; it had a sesame seed and fennel crust that fell apart to reveal a succulent piece of salmon. This was a really light and flavoursome dish, that pleased the palate, but didn`t over burden the stomach. My guest also told me to mention that he was also extremely content with the baby back ribs, which fell from the bone with only the smallest of touches.
Mains are a very meaty affair – this, as you may have already gathered, is not the ideal restaurant for vegetarians – their loss. Selection of steaks available ranging from 8oz Lomito medallions to the 22oz Asado de Chorizo, a sirloin steak to share, in a churrasco marinade made with smoked paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and parsley. The menu also includes options such as burgers and CAU sandwiches, making the menu rather well rounded, considering it`s size.
My guest and I both plumped for the 16oz Lomito, a scrumptious fillet of grass-fed rump, considered the finest cut in Argentina. The cut combines all the flavour of rump with the tenderness of a fillet. Also, it I should draw attention to the accompanying blue cheese sauce which really added another level of richness and flavour to the dish.
When the steaks arrived I was also given a tour of the wine menu and asked my wine preferences. I have to say that I prefer a glass of white to red but on this occasion I fancied the former. I then told the manageress and she recommended a fantastic wine; a bottle of the Argentinian Malbrontes Malbec, Torrontes, 2011 costing £23.50. The wine blends white and red grapes, resulting in a lighter bottle of red. The last thing you want whilst eating a heavy meal is a heavy red wine, so this light and smooth recommendation was a brilliant choice.
Desserts were also a highlight with treats such as a decadent Fondant to a delightful strawberry and mascarpone cheesecake. There really are options for everyone and they come with a very amenable average price tag of £5.
After 3 hours of dining my guest and I reluctantly left CAU, going back in to the cold night. But thanks to a thoroughly pleasant feast and great service, we were content and rather full. I would certainly recommend CAU to those look for a quality steak, in relaxed and stylish environment. Also, on the whole, I would argue that the restaurant is reasonably priced for a good quality cut of meat.
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
To see our full Disclosure Policy please click here.