CAU, 274 High Street, Guildford GU1 3JL
Slap bang outside the Radisson hotel where we were staying in my lovely hometown of Guildford is CAU (pronounced ‘cow’, obviously), which stands for Carne Argentina Única or unique Argentinian beef to you and me. Situated on the former site of Auberge, it so looked sleek and cool when we walked past the previous night and jam-packed also. Totally monochrome inside, bar the blue sky and green grass walls. The white corrugated walls are said to evoke the urban neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, we saw a similar effect at Cabana Brasil a few weeks ago. We noticed lots of families, possibly enticed in by the great kids menu and relaxed atmopshere.
Luckily our hangovers from the previous night at Relish were beginning to subside and we were ready to heal ourselves with meat. According to the website, Argentinians have been breeding Aberdeen Angus on the pampas for almost 200 years. There, they roam freely while grazing on 17 varieties of grass. This produces some of the best, most flavoursome beef in the world. Once they’ve taken the finest prime cuts, their beef is ‘wet aged’, a process that brings out the subtle flavour of the meat, without losing any of its juiciness.
To start, I eased myself in with the Crispbreads and dips. Homemade crispbreads with grilled aubergine and spicy tomato dips £2.75. We were also advised by manager to try the Yerba-smoked beef A CAU speciality. Lomito smoked the Argentinian way, in tea with orange, lemon thyme and garlic, dressed with soy and wasabi and served alongside a watercress salad £6.95
The beef was a great pick me up and helped increase my hunger, the dips were great and the crispbreads light and designed perfectly to scoop up the sauces.
Ade’s Sweet potato salad roasted sweet potato with a lightly cooked chorizo, mixed leaves, avocado, thinly sliced radish, red onion, tomatoes and plump black olives £4.95 was fantastic, thrown together and doused in a big glug of balsamic dressing. He even ate the olives and Ade hates olives,the portion was huge and I also ended up digging in. Am not sure if we ordered the main course size by mistake, there are two options.
For my main course I had the Tapa de Cuadril 10oz Cut from the top of the rump, with a belt of delicious crackling running through it, this steak is served the Brazilian way – thinly sliced and flash grilled so it melts in your mouth £16.50, the mention of crackling sucked me in. Unfortunately it had been seasoned too heavily and this took most of the enjoyment away from it. Shame as the meat was so tender, I bet it would’ve been amazing minus the salt.
The triple-cooked chunky chips £2.95 were heaven, almost Hawksmoor territory. The Green peas with shallots, mint and a little fresh chilli £2.95 were a bit of a let-down, they were dry and a little hard.
Ade’s trio of sausages arrived on a slate, Argentinian chorizo a plump, juicy sausage with a couple of drops of Pernod and Sambuca, surprisingly this was Ade’s least favourite and he loves a bit of spicy, paprika-scented pork sausage! Lamb & mint A Sunday roast in a sausage and Merguez, a very dense dark lamb sausage, full of spiced flavours. His favourite by far was the minted lamb. There are options of two for £6.50, three for £9.75, four for £13.00. The sausages come with no sides, so Ade ordered some Thin Chips £2.95, which were no way as good as the chunkier triple-cooked variety and a tomato & onion chutney, which tasted as if it had a hint of beer in the mix.
For dessert I was looking forward to the melt-yourself Argentinian hot chocolate but they’d run out of the chocolate bars. We shared a couple of desserts in the end as we couldn’t make our minds up – the Coconut panna cotta with passionfruit sauce made with light cream, sweet coconut milk and fresh passion fruit sauce, all topped with coconut-infused crumble £4.50 and the Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream CAU’s must-try chocolate fondant, served with vanilla ice cream topped with a warm, gooey and rich chocolate sauce £4.95
Both were great, we have never had coconut panna cotta before, it really worked, especially with the passionfruit. The crumble was a nice touch, tasted just like crushed digestive biscuits – and that’s not a bad thing! The Chocolate fondant wasn’t exactly the light dessert option, it was really rich, especially with a belly full of meat and chips. But Ade ‘struggled’ though and left a clean plate, as usual! I would’ve appreciated it so much more if I had felt ‘stronger’.
We would love to return here next time we’re in Guildford visiting family to…
a) order some of the Clericots wine, an Argentinian wine-based drink served with either a half or full bottle of regional wine and local fruits – our hangovers wouldn’t allow it.
b) Try a burger or order try another less-salty steak.
c) Drink a Submarino hot chocolate.
Oh, and d) bring my brother and sister who have been keen to check out CAU since it opened.