Steak and More at Cau on Kingston Riverside:
At this time of year, at least when the weather is fine, everyone wants to dine al-fresco. Cau is one of a group of restaurants fronting onto the Thames in Kingston. Each one has a little terrace – so you have the choice of the likes of Comptoir Libanese, Busabai Eatery and Cote. I hadn’t tried Cau yet, although there seem to be restaurants complete with stetson toting Cau-boys and Cau-girls, popping up all over the place at the moment.
We were lucky enough to get a seat on the terrace. If you do want to sit outside on a fine evening, there are heaters for if it gets chilly later on, though there’s stiff competition for the tables, even midweek. A couple of cocktails were a great way to start the evening – a Cau G&T for me (it comes with a garnish of juniper berries and grapefruit) and a Mojito for Tracy. It’s hard to go far wrong with a G&T, but the Mojito was light and not too sugary with a good kick of rum.
While we tried our best to decide what to eat we nibbled on some hummus and crispbreads. I’m not entirely sure of the Argentinian connection, but I thoroughly enjoyed the plateful.
Picada – Argentinian style charcuterie was equally delicious.
And the swordfish carpaccio was light and piquant.
For what the menu described as ‘Small Plates’ the portion sizes were generous. If you prefer to graze rather than eat three courses, three of these each would make a reasonable meal. There are a mixture of things on the menu some more Argentinian than others, so you can enjoy a belly of pork tempura alongside empanadas and anticuchos if you choose.
The main event though, is steak. There’s plenty of choice, though you may want to ask for a little help with the cuts which are Argentinian rather than English. And, most of the steaks come in different sizes, though the smallest is still a generous 220g. If you prefer something else, there a good choice of other mains including a few vegetarian options. But, it would have been churlish to turn down the ‘richly flavoured and wonderfully tender’ grass-fed beef, straight from the Argentinian pampas.
I picked the medallions in some vain attempt to be healthy. ‘The finest, most succulent cuts of lomito filleted from the centre and grilled’. But then of course I failed dismally and when offered the choice of chips or salad asked for both. Though at least I didn’t insist on trying both the chunky chips and the fries.
Tracy’s choice of rib-eye would have been my other pick from the menu. I love a good grass fed beef rib-eye. We both asked for the chimichurri sauce.
The steaks were both delicious. Mine was perfectly cooked (rare) while Tracy thought her medium rare was a little closer to medium. But, rib-eye is a fatty cut of steak and it’s important not to serve it too ‘undercooked’ because to get the best flavour you need the fat to have melted.
We probably wouldn’t have tried a dessert, but in the interest of research we ordered a portion of churros with dulce de leche. And, I have no regrets. They were delicious and I’ll be saving space when I return to make sure I can indulge.
All but a couple of the wines are available by the glass, by the ‘pot’ (half litre) and by the bottle. It’s a nice touch, meaning you can enjoy a good quality white wine with your starter and a red with your main course even if you are dining along. And, nothing is particularly expensive. There’s a selection of Malbecs – well worth steering that way if you are ordering steak. Cocktails are all £6.25 and there’s a small selection of beers and cider.
Both of us really enjoyed our evening at Cau. It’s well priced for the quality of food and drink we enjoyed and there’s a fun but not overly intrusive atmosphere. I was particularly impressed by the server who was going round checking we were all ok. When I asked if she could take our order, she explained that it was her first day so she wasn’t allowed to take orders but was learning how the system worked. That is an excellent way to make sure that customers benefit rather than suffer when there are new team members and, for us at least, it worked very well.
For more information on Kingston upon Thames, go to www.kingstonfirst.co.uk/ 020 8547 1221
For more information and reservations at Cau call 020 8546 4339 or book online
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Kingston Tourist Board and hosted for this meal by Cau Kingston. I was not obliged to write a positive review and all comments are editorially given.