As a birthday treat for my partner, I booked a table at the new Argentinian steak lovers promised land, CAU in St Katherine’s Dock.
The 10th UK opening to date, but open just a few weeks in east London, CAU is the sister chain to that other meaty joint Gaucho, and aims to offer ‘contemporary cuisine inspired by the vibrancy, colour and cultural diversity of Buenos Aires.’ So far, so South American – although dining with a dedicated fan of all things fleshy, it really needed to be on point that evening.
The only Gaucho I’ve ever been to was smart, modern and buzzing, and I just about remember the food and service being pretty good too, as the cocktails were pretty killer. Could CAU raise the steaks (sorry)?
A great location always helps and if you sit by the window, you can admire the boats bobbing around in the dock if that’s your thing. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday evening, with a mix of diners from business bods to families and tourists.
The decor is contemporary, with interesting touches such as corrugated booth seating and ‘cloud’ lights hovering over the bar, although some might say it’s a little cold in atmosphere. And when summer really takes hold, the front of the restaurant will open up onto the dockside for dining alfresco.
But enough wishful thinking and onto the menu, which could be a little baffling for someone who’s not au fait with steak terminology – do you know your rump from your rib-eye? The staff seem to be pretty knowledgeable though, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. For those concerned about welfare, the grass fed Argentinian beef comes straight from the pampas.
To kick off the proceedings, we ordered pork belly tempura and salt and pepper squid, a favourite of mine. The squid was nice enough but we both agreed it was not the best we’d ever eaten, while the tempura was again good, but the accompanying homemade ‘CAUChup’ tasted like it had come out of a bottle, according to my learned co-diner.
Then out trotted the steaks: a guargantuan 400g cut of lomito (fillet of rump) for him – said to be the finest Argentinian steak available – and a classic sirloin for me. All steaks come with chips or salad and larger cuts are available on request, although neither of ours were lacking in size, especially the lomito which we both declared ‘immense’.
And then the praise: ‘cooked to perfection’ and ‘one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten’ – you couldn’t really ask for more than that, could you?
But just before our cab arrived, this happened: the Cau Cornflake Ice Cream Sundae. Layers of cornflake-flavoured ice cream, cornflakes, crumbled chocolate brownie and dulce de leche. Sounds weird but believe me, it’s worth saving space for this divine dessert, which we demolished in style.
Job very well done.
CAU St Katharine Docks, Commodity Quay, London E1W 1AZ, tel:020 7702 0341. Nearest Tube: Tower Hill