Friendly, tasty and stylish - a real treat
The latest restaurant addition to the Wimbledon Village street scene is the intriguing sounding CAU, which sits in prime position on the High Street.
Its website says it's inspired by "the vibrancy of Buenos Aires, a city where cosmopolitan sophistication collides with an irresistibly chaotic energy. It's a beguiling, emotional and all embracing place to be."
Wow! So we went to see if that exciting spirit could be captured in Wimbledon Village. Oh, and to see if the food tasted any good as well.
It was a good start as we were greeted by two friendly hosts and offered a choice of a table over-looking the Wimbledon street scene or at the more cavernous rear.
We opted for the window side and spent a while taking in the surroundings. Bright, clean and different are three words that spring to mind. There's a lot of steel - even the fire extinguishers are steel-coloured. There's also some grassy images on the ceilings - a gimmick we're used to in Wimbledon, but is actually a theme in all the Cau restaurants.
We decided to start by sharing a tomato and goats cheese bruschetta (£3.75), and the chatty waitress came along with two extra plates to help us on our way. The dish (left) was attractively presented, being served slightly burnt in traditional Argentinian style. The goats cheese was creamy and rich, so it was soon finished off.
For my main course, I picked sea bass, while my friend went for aubergine lasagne. Being inspired by Buenos Aires, this clearly is a place with quite a bit of meat on the menu. The man on the table next to us looked to be enjoying his steak, washed down by a glass of red vino.
But fish is my favourite, and I wasn't let down. I was presented with two sizzling fillets of sea bass, cooked with herbs, orange and baby tomatoes (£14.50). It was all still in the pan (see left), and I was warned not to touch it. Thankfully the pan was sitting on a wooden block.
To accompany our main courses we shared a portion of triple cooked chips (£2.95) and another of courgettes and onion tempura (£2.75). The chips came in their own mini fryer, and we couldn't quite finish them. I heartily recommend the onion rings and courgette combo - they were just perfect. We had mayonnaise and tomato ketchup dips to accompany our side dishes.
The sea bass was ample and beautifully done. I liked the zesty spark added by the oranges and tomatoes. My friend's choice of aubergine lasagne (£8.95 for a large size, it is also £5.50 as a 'small plate') was a testing one in a restaurant with a lot of meat on its menu. She commented that it can often be a disappointment - but not this time. She said the aubergine was just the right texture and the generous portion was enjoyable.
A bottle of the cheapest red and white wines would have been £17.50 each, and they also do 500ml 'pots' at £11.95. As it was lunchtime, we just had a glass of wine each (£4.95 for my Spanish Rose). There is quite a varied wine list, with Argentianian and Spanish wines being heavily featured.
Of course, we left just enough room to share a dessert. We pondered over sticky toffee & ginger sponge pudding, served with honey ice cream (£5.50), but picked a slightly healthier alternative - Pina-Cau-La Da pudding - grilled pineapple with rum caramel, coconut sorbet and lime (£5.25). The charming waiter did his best to recommend their baked vanilla cheesecake (£5.95), but that will have to wait for another time. The grilled pineapple option was certainly a bit different, in an ever-so sweet sauce, with a pleasant sorbet to help cleanse our palates.
I got the feeling Cau will have a really buzzy atmosphere in the evening, with surroundings that will help it on its way. It was actually quite relaxing in the afternoon, although the service was very efficient, we weren't rushed at all. Definitely a welcome addition to Wimbledon Village.
Have you been to Cau - what do you think? What's your top local restaurant/pub? Why not comment on our forum?
November 29, 2014