Friday, March 16, 2012
It’s not every day that I leave London for dinner. The capital is so large that I could spend the rest of my life eating at a different restaurant every night and still not try them all. But every once in awhile there’s a place outside of London that piques my interest, and off I go. Last week it was the new CAU restaurant in Guildford.
CAU is a fancy way of misspelling “cow”, and, as the name implies, the restaurant is known for steak. It makes sense, too, because CAU is the little sibling of Gaucho, the well-regarded Argentinian steak restaurant chain in London. The first CAU opened in Amsterdam, but that was a bit far to travel just for dinner. When the second one opened in Guildford, I was invited to go for a meal, and I didn’t pass up the chance.
I went with a group of other food bloggers last Wednesday, and was pleasantly surprised that our train journey from Waterloo station to Surrey only took an hour. The restaurant was a 10-minute walk from Guildford station, and we soon found ourselves in a chic dining room with contemporary decor and blue lighting.
Our meal started with a cocktail demonstration. The bartender mixed different kinds of clericots, which are an Argentinian version of sangria. My favorite was the Salta, which was made with Torrontes white wine mixed with red and white grapes, passion fruit puree, and basil. It was light and refreshing, and made me wish it was summertime so that I could enjoy it outside.
After the cocktails, we ordered at least one of every starter on the menu so that we could sample them all. First I tried the steamed mussels, which were plump and tender in their creamy coconut and cilantro sauce.
They were followed by the sesame salmon, which could have used a bit less sesame on the crust. But the salmon and haddock fish cakes were classically good, as was the yerba-smoked beef. The eggplant lasagne was another winner, with layers of flavor and richness.
The starters were followed by steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. This being CAU, I couldn’t resist ordering a steak. My Lomito was a sizeable 16oz fillet of slowly-grilled Argentinian rump served with Stilton Hollandaise cheese sauce. It was huge. It was tasty, tender, and flavoful. I took half of it home and ate it for lunch the next day.
Part of the reason I couldn’t finish it was because I kept getting distracted by the side dishes. The courgette and onion tempura was all delicious fried goodness, the thick triple-cooked chips were a meal in themselves, and the “causlaw”—described as being “like coleslaw, but better”—was a good take on its namesake.
When it came time for dessert, I didn’t know if I had any room left. Even my dessert stomach felt full. But when I saw the milkshake menu, I couldn’t resist. I decided to share a dulce de leche one with a fellow food blogger.
The shake itself was good, but it tasted a bit too much like a vanilla milkshake with a touch of dulce de leche. It would have been nice if there had been more of the latter blended in. And drizzled on top. And served on the side. Mmmm. Dulce de leche…
After dessert, we all walked back to the train station in an effort to work off some of the calories we had consumed. The ride back to London went smoothly, and soon I was home and dreaming of caus and steaks in Surrey. Now that I’m awake again, I will have to dream of CAUs and steaks making their way to London. There are no plans to open a restaurant in the capital anytime soon, but I hope that someday CAU restaurant in Guildford won’t be the only place I can get my cau fix in the UK.