We have been eating a lot of meat recently – quality steak houses seem to be popping up all over Edinburgh at the moment. One of the newest and liveliest is restaurant chain CAU on Castle Street where we were invited to try recently. They have over 20 restaurants in the UK and I guess that they have a bit of buying power when it comes to sourcing decent Argentinian Aberdeen Angus beef and wine. The menu aims to bring a bit Buenos Aires passion, fun and spice to your table – no mean feat on a chilly Scottish November evening.
Starters can be chosen from the small plates menu and sharing is the best way to enjoy these tasty bites. Donnie has an allergy to paprika which features in most of the starters but our heroic waitress and kitchen staff came up with something suitable. The staff have an impressive handle on all things allergic and are very accommodating without it seeming like a lot of bother.
I have to mention the drinks menus – one of which is devoted entirely to steak’s best friend Señor Malbec. You can quite happily work your way through the cocktail menu without getting bored including badly punning takes on South American classics like the Piña-Cau-Lada. It being a week night we opted for wine, most of which is available by the glass, Pot (no, me either) or bottle. A Pot turns out to be a civilised 500ml and we ordered a mouth watering Piche Patagonian Malbec.
What did we have to eat?
Starters arrived looking as described – mine the burnt tomato bruschetta (£3.95) with whipped goat’s cheese on a thin slice of toasted sourdough tasted creamy and light.
Donnie had the belly of pork tempura (£6.95) served with CAUchup. The bite-sized chunks of pork are surprisingly light with the soft pork yielding to a crispy batter. The tangy tomato sauce gives it all a deliciously sweet and sour moreish-ness.
For mains, we thought it rude to order anything other than steaks and they offer an interesting choice of simple classic cuts along with some Argentinian specialities. I went for the Tapa de Cuadril which is a Brazilian favoured cut of top-rump beef, thinly sliced and then cooked under a very hot grill while Donnie opted for the rib eye. Like Christmas dinner, the sides can make or break the meal and we ordered a few for quality control purposes.
The onion rings (£2.95) were a must and they were deliciously light and crispy and their CAUslaw (which I normally can’t bear) is worth a try – an unlikely combination of crunchy red cabbage, vinegar and condensed milk. We also added the baked sweet potato (£3.75), thin chips (£2.95) and coal roasted cauliflower (£3.25). It was nice selection that didn’t overwhelm the main event.
Donnie’s rib-eye was cooked medium which is often difficult to get just right and is a bit subjective anyway. The steak had a nice char-grilled exterior with a perfect dark-pink middle and had been properly rested giving a juicy piece of meat. I prefer my steaks a bit rarer but the beef was still tender and flavoursome and the herby green chimichurri sauce (£1.25) was a refreshing change from the usual cloying accompaniments.
Room for dessert?
The portion sizes are very generous and the sides will satisfy two people quite happily – we did struggle a bit to finish everything. This didn’t stop us looking at the dessert menu where we chose the Cornflake Ice Cream sundae that was absolutely delicious. It was made for sharing with the chunks of bitter chocolate brownie heading off the sweetness of the dulce de leche and who knew cornflake ice cream was even a thing? It’s a great end to a very satisfying dinner.
CAU Edinburgh manages to be a chain but without feeling like one and much of this is down to the staff who are friendly, knowledgeable and care. The CAU menu also offers something a bit different which it delivers to a very high standard and is fantastic value for money. And of course, it has Cornflake ice cream sundaes!
Find out more about CAU Edinburgh and book a table.
15 Castle Street
Many thanks to CAU for inviting us along to sample their new Edinburgh restaurant.