Cau: hitting a bum note with a poor steak

There are few occasions in life when a chap can justifiably refer to something as being a waste of a cow’s arse.

But such justification arose when I ate a steak at Cau, newly-sprung up in Birmingham and part of an expanding chain.
The steak – from that lovely cut, the rump, and therefore in the vicinity of the bovine posterior – was truly hideous.

The food

The thrust of Cau’s menu is Latin American. Thus there are plenty of steaks.
But we began with a shared small plate – served on a unsuitable black slate – of hummus, aubergine caviar, finely sliced chilli, roasted nuts and crisp flatbreads.
It was a parsimonious portion, but not offensive to eat.
Alas, the same cannot be said of the tapa de caudril that I ordered as my main course.
Seldom have I been confronted with a more forlorn dish than that which was placed in front of me.
Thin slices of meat lay on a plate that was dressed in no way whatsoever – no watercress, no tomato, no nothing.
The steak itself had allegedly been flash-fried, but was dull-hued and unappetising.
Some slices lacked seasoning, one was horribly salty. None of the slices had any beefy oomph.
Had this been served by meals-on-wheels to a pensioner, I’d have suspected that the deliverer held a grudge against the person to whom it was given.
My unfortunate companion’s rump steak – ordered medium-rare, served well-done – was an equal disappointment.
It oozed a thin liquid that might have well been the tears of the animal from which it was cut, despairing at its sorry and tragic fate.
A side order of coal-roasted cauliflower florets marinated in yoghurt and paprika was an extraordinary concoction of over-cooked soggy cauli and gloop.
Thin fries were adequate. A small green salad likewise.
All our main dishes were served far from hot.
No deserts were ordered for, by now, we were stricken by post-traumatic steak syndrome.

The service

The staff have been trained to say ‘hi guys, how you doing?’ but not, it seems, to serve with any efficiency.
There were delays in taking orders and in food being brought to our table.

The place

Cau is located in a faux Italianate building in Brindleyplace and we ate outside beneath the arches.
It was a pleasant place to sit on a mild and sunny evening. Tables were a little cramped but comfortable enough.

The drinks

Wines kick in at £17.50 a bottle and there’s an emphasis on Argentinian producers.
There are also beers, cocktails, smoothies, shakes and the like.
The £20.50 bottle of Spanish old vines garnacha that we drank was an amiable wine – perhaps it had taken pity on us after seeing the steaks we’d ordered.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £38 for three courses, a side and wine.
Cut costs with the £11.95 two-course express menu.
There are veggie and fish options.
It’s child-friendly and accessible for the disabled.

3 Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2JB. 0121 632 6001.

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