Book your table at CAU on a balmy evening and sit looking out onto St Katharine Docks deciding which boat you’d have and where you’d go if you could afford a boat. That’s what we did. A lazy, sunny afternoon would work too. CAU tucks itself into a parade of dock-side restaurants and has an outdoor-indoor feel as the front window panels peel back to welcome an airy, spacious dining area. The interiors are like a milkshake bar. Very different from the industrial, macho meat-centred venues London has become accustomed to. The bright grass-like panels on the ceiling, hanging silver orbs, cloud lights and bright corrugated panels on the walls somehow make the excessive meat consumption feel less illicit. I’m not a big meat-eater. I harbour the millennial guilt of needing to know where my food has come from and wondering whether I’ve exceeded my self-imposed meat quota. I go in for meat in restaurants — it’s one of those self-righteous indulgences.
Everyone can recall an experience of a eating a steak: the one time you cooked it well at home, the one time it was appallingly overdone; the first time you had it blue and liked it, etc. It’s a peculiarity of steak restaurants that you’ll always hear a burly man on the next table reminiscing steak experiences gone by: CAU is no different. It is however an non-intimidating place to try steak. Don’t feel obliged to though. The coal-grilled layered up with bacon, avocado, and onion rings burgers being dashed from the kitchen were also a sight to behold. The starters and sides make it easier to choose a steak and not feel like you’re missing out on the non-meaty bits. You’ll pick up salt & pepper squid, tacos and empanadas; the latter a nod towards the Argentinian theme of the restaurant. We chose pork belly tempura — a bit Japanese, a bit Portuguese — which was very tasty and flavoursome, though the meat was quite fatty. Croquettes have a become a main-stay of starters and snacks in pubs and restaurants everywhere. They’re brilliant, but not all made equal. CAU’s ham hock and manchego crispy croquettes were a delight, just mashy and cheesy enough with the welcomed saltiness of the ham.
The menu gives little away about the steak. The ribeye is described as ‘the steak lover’s steak’, the sirloin ‘the classic’, and the Tira de Ancho as the ‘ultimate steak’. Not being a steak lover or aspiring steak lover I swept past the sirloin, and not being an aficionado by any shot made me steer away from the ‘classic’. I was seduced into ordering the ‘ultimate’ spiral cut ribeye Tira de Ancho which is ‘grilled slowly for maximum tenderness’. It arrived lavishly stretched across the plate, marinated in colourful chimichurri and with a deliciously crisp exterior. The thickness of the meat meant the middle was still tender and had a natural rich meaty flavour. My pal went for Lomito, the fillet cut of rump. It was a hunky piece of meat that she drizzled in blue cheese sauce. It was wickedly tender with the gooey sauce making it extra sinful.
When it comes to dessert the menu reminds you ‘you only live once’. This makes us inclined to glance down the dessert menu at the churros, dulce de leche pancakes and Argentine ice cream on offer. It was hard to discern how large these desserts would be or perhaps they all sound fairly hefty after a steak dinner. My pal opted for the banoffee mess, which we hoped would take the classic Eton mess up a notch with baked banana. Unfortunately it was a gooey, creamy confusion that she didn’t finish. My fresh pancakes topped with ice cream and Argentine caramel sauce were a light, thin and perfect sweetener to top off my visit to CAU.
I’d certainly return for another taste of the Tira de Ancho or to order from the burger section. I’m sure they’ll be plenty of sunny afternoons where this Argentine steakhouse on St Katherine’s dock is the place to seek shade, pick out your favourite boat and transport yourself to Buenos Aires, taste-wise anyway.
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To book call 020 7702 0341 or visit the website here for more info.