In all honesty I was slightly disappointed with the number of new restaurants opening with Victoria Gate, the original press release suggested much more than two restaurants and a Pret A Manger (because Leeds really needs another Pret), or perhaps I was just being too hopeful. Nevertheless I am always going to have a look in to what is new in town and so I did, last Friday the day after opening.
Cau is an Argentinian steak and burger restaurant (again because Leeds is seriously lacking in this department), a chain with Leeds being its 22nd opening. A clever play on words Cau (abbreviated from Carne Argentina Unica) pronounced by many sounds like you're saying 'cow' and seen as this is their main offering it fits the bill. Rather than trying to capture the whole of Argentina in a restaurant they have singled out Buenos Aires as a focal point.
As mentioned, we arrived last Friday evening their (and Victoria Gate's) second day of opening. We hadn't booked I was just hoping to wing a reservation and wasn't too fussed about waiting for a table. We arrived at 8.10pm and were told by the host that there was a 40 minute wait on a table as a large group had just arrived. Having no problem with this we settled at the bar and ordered a couple of cocktails, another couple arrived shortly after us and were told the same.
|Lemon Meringue and Caipirinha cocktails|
20 minutes later the couple opposite us had their drinks and we were still waiting on our cocktails. Apologies were made once our glances were caught and when our drinks arrived we were told they were on the house! Shortly after this the other couple were led upstairs to a table for dining. Those who have read my previous post about my experience in Chaophraya will know how frustrated and irritable I get when I feel I am being disadvantaged in food situations. D noticing my face leapt to the rescue and asked the waitress when we might be seated upstairs and noted to her the fact that the couple who had arrived after us had been escorted up already.
More apologies were given and we were finally led to a table upstairs. Much to my surprise the restaurant was half empty with plenty of chairs to spare, seemed odd that the kitchen would struggle at this level of capacity on a Friday evening... on their second day of opening (did I mention that?).
|Kitchen can't cope with this level of customer?|
Our waitress was promptly with us and we ordered some olives and tap water whilst we debated over the menu.
The olives accompanied with chillies were also flavoured with such, great for me and D not so great if you're not in to spice, thankfully we are and we lapped them up.
Having had a little to drink prior to arriving (plus a few sips of our cocktails) I was ravenous and ordered two starters for D and I to share (despite D only agreeing to the one), it was also too hard to order just one when the options sounded so appetising.
|Jamon and Manchego Croquettes|
My first starter of choice was the trio of croquettes (3 for £5.95) available with smoked haddock, porcini and mushroom truffle or jamon and manchego. I opted for the latter and they were delicious, creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside with a slight fusion of the jamon which didn't accidentally choke you with too large pieces (as experienced elsewhere).
|Beef and Onion Empanadas|
My second starter of choice were the empanadas (2 for £7) available with a variety of different flavours we (I) opted for the beef and onion. Again these were delicious but they also tasted more like a samosa than any other empanada I've had.
We pondered over the steaks but as with all new steak restaurants we weren't sure of the quality and didn't want to spend £25 each just to be disappointed and know we could do better ourselves at home... so we played it safe and ordered burgers and sandwiches.
|Steak Sandwich in Jalapeno Bread|
D has this love affair with jalapeños and so when his eye caught the steak sandwich which is served in jalapeños bread there was no other competitor. It did look impressive and D was suitably satisfied with his choice although he couldn't really taste the jalapeños in the bread.
|Buenos Aire Burger|
I opted for the Buenos Aire Burger, in an Argentinian restaurant that is trying to replicate the food of Buenos Aire it seemed to be the way to go. I was asked by the waitress how I wanted my burger cooked to which I replied medium rare, it was nice to be given the choice. Unfortunately there wasn't anything rare about my burger with no pink in sight, if I wasn't a little drunk I may have made more of a fuss. Served with an onion ring contained within the burger and cheese melted but almost set by the time it reached me, my burger felt a bit like a chain-pub-burger but with better meat. The dip that came with both meals was mighty fine and far better than the yellowing skin topped mayo that was served to me on request (just to be clear I didn't request the yellow skin topped mayo, just normal mayo).
|Chips in a basket|
Chips were served in mini frying baskets, something I thought was (hopefully) going out of fashion, evidently not. They were good as far as chips go but not the best of my life.
Service started off great (if you ignore the mishaps downstairs in the bar) with a waitress appearing with a fork almost immediately when I dropped mine on the floor. Cutlery was cleared after our starters and not returned for our mains, cue me having to lean over to the (empty) table next to us to snaffle some more. D had a bit of a do at the end of the meal where he thought he had lost his wallet and they weren't too pleased about the added commotion this caused (which wasn't a lot just D running up and down the stairs mainly looking a bit pained) and to be honest they seemed to be glad when we paid up and left.
The first place in Victoria Gate is now ticked off the list but I'm not sure how quickly I will return for food, I may however be persuaded to have another cocktail as they were pretty damn delicious.
(I'd post a picture of Victoria Gate but I'm sure everyone in Leeds is getting tired of seeing their glitzy glam art deco shiny floors by now)
Price for the meal (cocktails not included as they were free) was £45 including tip.
D's summary (this might become a new feature).
"It was good but a bit pricy, but I'd expect to pay more in Victoria Gate anyway. I enjoyed it but your burger was a bit of a let down. I don't think we'll go again though there are other places I'd choose over going here again."