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274 High Street, Guildford, United Kingdom

CAU Guildford Reviews

writer-sam writer-s…
14 reviews
Great food, not-so-great service Jun 24, 2012
CAU (pronounced "cow") in Guildford is ultra-modern, furnished in white, chrome and black (an added and entertaining twist: the chairs are swivels on a four-legged base!). It's advertised primarily as specialising in Argentinian steaks, but there's also a nice range of other dishes - from smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes to grilled pork belly and spatchcock chicken.

The waiter who greeted us was friendly and offered us a choice of where to sit, but our table didn't look particularly clean. Due to time constraints we didn't order starters (pre-theatre dinner), but our drinks arrived swiftly (a bottle of water for me and my mum to share, a Berry Bellini cocktail for me, and a Spanish beer for my partner). Mum ordered the fishcakes with a side order of CAUslaw; my partner had "tapa de cuadril" ("Cut from the top of the rump, with a belt of delicious crackling running through it, this steak is served the Brazilian way – thinly sliced and flash grilled so it melts in your mouth", according to the website!) with thin chips, green peas cooked with shallots, garlic and chilli, and blue cheese sauce; and I had the same steak with chunky chips, rocket and Parmesan salad, and garlic and herb aioli.

Our steaks were delicious, although my partner's was gristly. The chips came served in mini wire fryer baskets, which added a funky twist, and the presentation of all the dishes was great. The blue cheese sauce was actually yellow (?) but tasted gorgeous, and was great with the chunky chips! The aioli was nothing particularly special, although nice; the fishcakes were a hit, as was the CAUslaw and the peas; the rocket and Parmesan salad had just the right balance of each and was fresh and tasty; and overall, the food was fab. My cocktail was okay but perhaps not worth the £6 it cost, and my partner enjoyed the beer - high praise from a squaddie!

It was after we'd been served with our mains that the service (and the food) started to go downhill. Although the restaurant was all but deserted when we first got there (there was one other couple in the entire place when we arrived at 5.15), the food did take some time to arrive and there seemed to be some kind of staff meeting going on in the upstairs seating area. As the restaurant got busier staff members ambled around in conversation with each other or 'attended' upstairs. We were sitting with our dirty plates in front of us for over 10 minutes, and when a staff member (our original waiter had disappeared after delivering our mains) wiped down the table after removing the plates, she didn't make it to my side of the table!

For dessert we ordered coconut panna cotta with passion fruit sauce, churros and chocolate sauce, and "banana split with a twist". The panna cotta was nice but not particularly 'coconutty'; the banana split was okay but 'not as good as they advertised it' (Boyfriend's words); and the churros - despite a thick dredging of sugar and cinnamon - tasted somehow savoury, as if they'd been cooked in the same oil as the chips, while the chocolate sauce was bitter and didn't complement the churros at all. Mum and I ordered a latte and a "Moroccan Mint" tea with the desserts, but these didn't arrive until well after we'd finished; the latte was lukewarm, my teacup was dirty, and the tea smelled more like peppermint and tasted awful.

A "discretionary 10% tip" was added to our bill, which came to just over £93 (including tip). The service and the final drinks certainly weren't worth the price, but as we were already beginning to run late for the theatre (it took over an hour and three-quarters for a two-course meal!), we didn't have time to haggle.

Overall, the main courses were brilliant, but the desserts needed work and the service definitely needs improving. It IS quite expensive for what you get, but it's pleasant enough - maybe the quality of desserts/drinks/service depends on what time of day you go!
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