Eat out in London and get acquainted with some of the finest Argentinian cuisine this side of the globe. This buzzing and vibrant restaurant will charm you with its beautiful décor and delicious culinary choices. Head to Wimbledon to try the latest addition to the CAU team.
CAU – Wimbledon
In three words: Fresh, vibrant, meaty
The Lowdown: Sometimes, all that you need to fix that rumble in the stomach is a decent steak. I’ve had lengthy conversations over which cut is the nicest, how it should ideally be cooked, and which country provides the premium cows.
Of the latter debates, it is widely thought that Argentina wins in the best bovine stakes. And for those without access to a private jet or pool of money who still want the excellence of this South American cut, we advise a visit to CAU. Inspired by the energy and vitality of Buenos Aires, this is a place to kick back and become acquainted with some of the finest cuisine of Argentina.
Location: Now with eight different locations in the UK, including Bristol and Henley, CAU are bringing quality steak to even more carnivores. We visited the newly opened site in Wimbledon Village – a lovely little restaurant about fifteen minutes from Wimbledon Station, set in a charming area of shops that make you feel a million miles away from the chaos of London.
The Occasion: CAU is a super place to head with a herd of friends – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, apart from the food which is damn good. If you have a pal who gets dizzy at the classic combination of steak and red wine (and we all know someone) then give them a real treat by bringing them here.
Decor: There’s a definite modern streak to CAU – it’s got that designer edge and is trendy without being offensively so. From the vibrant green grass on the ceiling, to the azure blue skies painted onto the walls, and the jaunty touch of cloud-lamps, the space is reminiscent of the dazzling Argentine plains. Everything else is decorated in the bovine two-tones of black and white, adding a touch of chic style.
Atmosphere: CAU is friendly and not too formal, while maintaining a nice sophistication. There’s a hubbub of people enjoying themselves, and the open kitchen gives an extra sense of familiar warmth. The waiting staff are very knowledgeable about all aspects of the menu, and are on hand to offer suggestions.
Culinary Concept: The menu is inspired by the cuisine of Buenos Aires, with a focus on fresh ingredients, prime beef, and the nostalgic comfort food of Italy and Spain.
What we tried:
Naturally the order of the evening was steak, but first we tried some of the Yerba-Smoked Beef and the Tuna Tartar. The beef was prepared in the Argentinean way, with soy and wasabi to give it a spectacular Asian kick, while the tuna was balanced with a zing of lime, the liquorice-sweetness of fennel and a delightful crunch of hazelnut. An anticucho skewer of perfectly grilled, succulent chicken with pea-green guacamole was a street-food secret we’ll definitely be trying again.
On to the steak, and the cut we were recommend was the specialty cut of Lomito. This fillet of rump is considered the finest cut in Argentina, and boy did it live up to this accolade. It arrived on the plate with colossal magnificent – a piece of meat architecture on the china – and could be cut with minimum effort. When a steak paints your plate pink then you know you’re in for a good meal, and this it certainly was. The side of blue cheese sauce added an intense richness, while golden fries provided a welcoming crunch.
A dessert of Churros rounded off the evening perfectly – the fingers of deep-fried goodness dusted with a hearty sprinkle of warming cinnamon and accompanied by a decadent pool of dulce de leche couldn’t have made us happier.
For next time: We’d happily work our way through the steak menu, although some of the salads, such as the hot smoked salmon with horseradish and beetroot, nearly tore us away from the meat. CAU also offer an exciting brunch menu with an exotic offering of Latin Eggs – grilled avocado, poached eggs, toasted muffins, fresh hollandaise and a drizzle of chimichurri. Something to definitely wake up for!
Veggie delights: There are a couple of items, like the risotto and the aubergine lasagne, but really this is a carnivore’s playground.
Best of the booze: This is a restaurant where red wine takes centre stage, and there’s a whole list of Malbecs to tempt vino lovers. We tried the Zuccardi ‘Animado’, especially created for CAU, and found it had a vibrant fruitiness that was perfect with steak. There’s also a lovely little cocktail list, of which the Mendoza Sour is a well-balanced mix of bourbon, citrus zing, and the rich sweetness of Malamado fortified wine.
Fun Fact: CAU is from the guys behind the high-end meat-masters Gaucho – so you know your steak is in good hands.
Overall: It’s been a while since I’ve had amazing ribeye or sirloin – they’ve either been okay or disappointing. But it seems steak-salvation has come in the form of CAU, with quality cooking and the finest of ingredients that really make you feel you could be in South America. And, to quote my dining partner, ‘the steaks really are superbly badass’.