Because of his burger blogging prowess Nick "Burger Me!" Andrews is regularly invited to taste burgers in London and beyond. When invited to sample a burger in Guildford recently, he didn't think twice – as he'd been looking for an excuse to check out CAU...
CAU (pronounced "cow stands for Carne Argentina Única (Unique Argentinian Meat) occupies an inglenook at the top of the high street in Guildford, writes Nick Andrews . Formerly the site of Auberge, the restaurant is completely glass fronted and has a cocktail bar vibe. I was invited by CAU to visit with Mrs Burger Me! on a bitterly cold Wednesday night in February to sample its burger and steak offering.
CAU is part of the Gaucho group, and as such benefits from the same wet-aged, Argentinian beef as it's more glitzy London sibling, but the front of house at CAU was a far cry from the bored aloofness that has previously greeted me in the Gaucho stable (if you are so inclined, you can read all about my terrible burger in Gaucho Smithfield here). We were shown to our table by the window and promptly offered drinks.
So far, so good.
The menus are of the laminated/chain variety, but nicely set out in clear sections. I, of course, opted for the cheese & bacon burger, cooked medium-rare, and Mrs Burger Me! opted for an 8oz Sirloin, with pepper sauce. For sides we shared a basket of triple-cooked chunky chips, and a courgette and onion tempura, all washed down with a 500ml pot of Argentinian Malbec.
The damage: Burger £10.95, Steak £14.00, Chips £2.95, Tempura £2.50, Pepper Sauce £1.95. 500ml Malbec £14.00.
The burger arrived on some cool CAU greaseproof paper, lid off, but the presentation left a little to be desired not least as the cheese was predominantly unmelted, but the rest of it looked a bit haphazard.
Once lidded, the burger was a joy to destroy. Sporting one of the most unique buns I've tried, a buttery almost croissant-like brioche creation (the source of which is top secret), the whole burger 'comes together' like The Beatles. A bit of Ringo in the cheese (dull but required), John in the burger (smooth), Paul in the bun (pepping it all up), and George in the bacon (holding it all together with a porky backbone). I know that last one was tenuous, but this is a very enjoyable burger, and in spite of it only being 6.5oz, this is such a rich burger that one is more than enough to satisfy.
Just a little close up of the croissant/brioche bun. It was phenomenal.
Sides looked and tasted great. The triple-cooked chips were fantastic, big wedges of crispy potato sat in their own mini frying basket, while the tempura courgette and onion was light, crisp and juicy.
Honourable mention goes to the steak, which Mrs B said was one of the best she's had. I don't need to remind you this is the same steak that goes for £14 per 100g in London, and it was only £14!
Dessert was a Dolche de Leche fondant which was every bit as decadent as it sounds.
The final thing than really stood out for me and Mrs B was the cross-section of clientelle - from short and sandle wearing students (really, in this weather?), to young families, work do's, and couples. The broad appeal of an affordable steakhouse on the high street in Guildford seems to be particularly savvy targeting by CAU. It really was a hard day's night.
Presentation 3/5. Slightly haphazard with unmelted cheese. better once the bun was on.
Structure/Bite 5/5. Magic. The most amazing croissant-like brioche bun wrapped around the aged patty and my teeth glided through it.
Component parts 3/5 cheese unmelted, but bacon, patty and sides were all
Taste/Texture 5/5. Like eating aged beef mousse so soft and so light with a wonderful buttery aftertaste.
Experience 4/5 Nice and unpretentious. Good value and good buzz, though service was slow at times.
Total Score 20/25 - 4 Stars
Finally, a big thank you to CAU who picked up the tab for our visit.
274 High Street
Tel: 01483 459 777