CAU has opened its doors in Leamington offering a taste of the Argentine.
One could ask if another restaurant was really needed in Leamington. The town in recent years has become a real seventh heaven for foodies with no end of different cuisines on offer. To answer my own question, there is certainly room for Cau (pronounced ‘cow’).
The new Satchwell Court restaurant, on the corner of the Regent Street entrance to the Royal Priors, is the latest in a rapidly expanding chain – and on the evidence of our experience, it’s rapidly expanding for good reason. The chain actually started from the head gaucho’s love of Argentinian food which has been translated through Cau as ‘Buenos Aires cuisine, a melting pot of comfort food inspired by Italy and Spain’ to quote the website. That obvious true passion shines through in everything Cau do.
The Leamington restaurant is spacious and stylish, with a distinctly relaxed air, aided by little eccentricities such as prints of grass and little fluffy clouds on the walls and ceiling. The waiting staff – or ‘caugirls’ and ‘cauboys’ as their t-shirts explain – add to the quirky contemporary vibe. The firm’s newest restaurant may not have been open two weeks when we visited, but reassuringly, our delightful waitress already had an extensive knowledge of the menu, and was happy to offer advice, and share her particular favourites.
For those wondering Cau stands for Carne Argentina Única – which translates along the lines of unique Argentinian beef.
It would be impossible to imagine an Argentinian inspired restaurant surviving which did not do a good steak. Be assured, Cau know how to prepare and serve a seriously good steak, but do not be fooled into believing it’s simply all about the meat. Cau also do a lot else very well.
We started by looking through a carefully selected and not overbearing wine list which even includes a number of wines made exclusively for Cau. We went for one such wine – the juicy smooth black fruit-packed Trasandino Malbec. Not as heavy as some malbecs, it proved the perfect accompaniment for the food which followed.
For starters – listed as small plates – we opted for one of the Anticuchos skewers, the paprika chicken and yellow pepper, and the smoked haddock croquettes, both excellent and served with a superb guacamole and a caper mayo respectively.
Away from the steaks, there are some tantalising ‘big plates’ (mains) – chicken, lamb, pork , fish and ravioli among them – but but we headed straight for the steak menu. Cau use only the best meat – grass fed Aberdeen Angus. The biggest headache of the evening was simply in choosing.
We decided on one of the ‘speciality cuts’, a Lomito – a fillet of rump considered to be the finest cut in Argentina, served with a blue cheese sauce – and the Tapa De Cuadril – strips of thinly sliced rump flash grilled.
The Lomito is a serious piece of meat weighing in 400g (14oz). Cooked medium rare, it was simply the best steak I have ever eaten. They also do a 500g (17oz) offering for anyone who may be dining with a lion! My good lady’s Tapa De Cuadril was also supremely flavoursome.
With all steaks comes the option of chips done various ways, sweet potato or salad. We opted to share some hearty chunky triple cooked chips, and a salad. The salad was just another example of Cau’s attention to detail. This was not some limp lettuce and a simple chopped up tomato. Cau’s salad is a deicious mix of red and yellow peppers, radish, red onion, sugar snap peas, served in a green chimichurri dressing. We would both have happily eaten a bowl of it on its own.
Managing to find room for a dessert, we plumped for the bitter orange creme caramel with an almond crumb, and on our waitresses’ recommendation, the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. Both were richly indulgent, but well worth the guilt.
Cau is certainly a more than welcome addition to Leamington’s burgeoning population of restaurants.
Visit www.caurestaurants.com to book and for further details.