The new set menu from Cau is a treat for the tastebuds and the wallet
With lush green grass on the ceiling, blue skies on the walls, sleek white banquettes, corrugated metal panelling and a light installation in the shape of a fluffy white cloud floating above the bar, it’s fair to say that the interior of Cau on Queens Road is striking.
As is the value of the new set menu (available from 12pm to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday) which comes in at a very reasonable £10.95 for two courses and £12.95 for three.
On this occasion I was accompanied by not just one dining companion, but two – one full size and one distinctly smaller, in the shape of my friend’s two-year-old son who had been enlisted to give the kid’s menu a go.
Anyone who has ever taken a child to a restaurant knows that it’s not always the most, erm, relaxing of experiences, but Cau certainly try their best to take out the element of stress.
As soon as we arrived we were shown to a table by the window with plenty of room to park the buggy, a high chair materialised almost instantly and we were handed an iPod loaded pre-loaded with games to keep little ones amused. It turned out to be a stroke of genius as the mini member of our trio was suitably entertained to allow his mum and I to chat and peruse the menu in relative peace.
I have experienced many set menus which seem to be a selection of the establishment’s most dull and uninspiring dishes, served in slightly smaller portions than on the full price menu. Fortunately neither of these things were true on this occasion.
My fish tacos were more than generous in size (they could have made a light lunch on their own) and the plate was a riot of colour. Unusual blue tortillas cradled pieces of moist Pollock coated in a wonderfully light and crisp golden batter, crunchy pico de gallo, fiery chillies and a sprinkling of coriander – and it tasted just as good as it looked.
My friend was equally impressed with her salt and pepper squid which was well cooked and not all rubbery, and to her delight came with some of the tentacles as well as the rings.
Cau is known for its steaks so we were delighted to find two options on the menu (for a £2 supplement) – rump or tapa de cuadril, cut from the top of the rump and served thinly sliced and flash grilled. My friend devoured the tapa de cuadril, proclaiming it melt-in-the-mouth soft and the accompanying chimichurri zingy and refreshing. I had intended to order the light and fresh sounding pan-fried sea bream and fennel salad, but when the waiter came to the table I found myself ordering the Cau burger (things like this happen to me with alarming regularity!) which turned out to be a very good thing. The burger was juicy and well-seasoned, smothered in melted Monterey Jack and while the chimichurri got a bit lost, it in no way detracted from my enjoyment.
While we were happily tucking into our beefy bonanza, our little companion was faring equally well. The mini eats menu (£7.50) had a range of options including pizza, fish cakes, burgers and pasta, but our friend had a 130g steak. All come with chips, cucumber and carrot sticks and a soft drink. In reality he was too excited by the iPod to pay much attention to his food, but he made a more than decent attempt and unwilling to let any of the delicious meat go to waste his mum and I polished off his remaining steak.
Mum and little one both chose to go for the signature cornflake sundae for dessert (£2.50 for the kids version and £5.95 for the full size) a tower of cornflake flavoured ice cream cornflakes, crumbled chocolate brownie and dulce de leche which was huge fun, if not a little messy to eat!
My pina-Cau-lada from the set menu, might have had a silly name, but I can forgive that since the juicy slices of grilled pineapple, refreshing coconut sorbet and naughty-but-nice lime and rum caramel were a fabulous ending to the meal.
Cau, 74 Queens Road, Bristol 0117 925 4162