A TANTALISING SELECTION OF ECLECTIC DISHES
As a conference and tourist centre Harrogate is simply awash with eateries of every kind and standard.
But venture onto Station Parade you will find one of the town’s best kept secrets – CAU. This really is the jewel in the crown of eateries and is often referred to as the best steakhouse in Harrogate
The secret lies not only in its excellent cuisine, but in the friendliness, efficiency and knowledge in their own particular field of its staff. They really make your dining experience one to be savoured but more important make every patron feel really special and literally can’t do enough to enhance your time with them.
It was one of the worst afternoons of the year when we arrived at CAU, having braved a deluge, high winds and a storm. We did apologise for how we looked but I immediately our umbrellas were taken from us and our wet jackets hung to dry.
CAU is a light and airy establishment with floor to ceiling windows that look over gardens on one side and Harrogate’s rather continental boulevards on the other. Being summer there was outside seating although the weather stopped anyone eating alfresco.
The tables are nicely spaced and the white leather seats, some of the most comfortable I have experienced for some time.
We started our CAU experience with one of their famous cocktails. And these are really cocktails made by an experienced mixologist who will explain the various choices to you if you are in doubt as to what will suit your taste buds.
Being a lover of gin, I chose a Where the Wild Things Are. It contained Gentleman Badger sloe gin, Portobello Road gin, forest berries and ginger ale and I must say when it arrived it was a virtual work of art.
My colleague chose the Pina-Cau-Lada with spiced rums, pineapple juice, coconut water and lime which arrived with artistic flair and was highly commended.
We were taken through the wine list by the restaurant manager and we decided to go with her recommended choices after tasting two different whites, opting for the Trasandino Sauvignon Blanc an Argentinean wine – what else in a place that serves grass fed Argentinean steaks – and we were not disappointed loving its fresh gooseberry and citrus taste.
CAU does a good choice of ‘small plates’ which are ideal as a tapas type meal or as a starter. In our case we chose from this selection our starter.
I decided on the Belly of Pork Tempura, which often can be a soggy, greasy disappointment. But when my dish arrived I was ecstatic. The batter was hot, crisp and light and the pork just melted in my mouth with the CAUchup giving is an added dimension.
The Burnt Tomato Bruschetta was amazing. My colleague loved the whipped goats cheese on the sourdough making it a tasty vegetarian choice.
‘There’s beef and then our beef’ – it says on the menu and the chef explained each cut of steak to us. The meat comes from Aberdeen Angus Cattle free range and grass fed straight from the pampas plains. It’s aged and cut to order which makes the steaks tender.
I decided on the Tira De Ancho – the signature dish of spiral cut of rib-eye marinated in chimichurri and slowly grilled, in my case to very well done. I was absolutely amazed when my steak arrived just how tender and succulent it was and just how well the chef had interpreted my wishes for a well done steak.
My colleague opted for the Miso Glazed Sea Bream Fillet, served with wild rice, spinach, sugar snap peas and lotus root, the later which she found “interesting”
It was cooked to perfection and the accompaniments gave it a delightful fusion of flavours.
To accompany our feast we shared one of the most delicious tomato salads I have tasted for a very long time and some crispy onion rings.
We did have to sit for a while before we could even have to look at the dessert menu but our “heaven on a plate” came in the shape of Churros for my colleague, Argentinean style doughnuts, which were just as they should be crispy on the outside and perfect on the inside whilst I opted for some scoops of Argentinean ice-cream which was more than delicious.
As we looked at our watches we couldn’t believe we had been in the restaurant for over three and a half hours – time just flew but it does when you are enjoying yourself and made to feel special.
By this time it was obvious just how popular CAU is in the town as the restaurant started to fill with locals who just didn’t want to cook an evening meal or had something to celebrate and business clients, obviously regulars to the place when they visit the town.
The restaurant is situated just across from the bus and train station which makes it very convenient for travel from Leeds and the outskirts if you don’t want to drive.
CAU is situated at Westgate House, Station Parade, Harrogate HG1 1HQ. Opening Hours Mon-Fri 10.00am-11pm; Sat 9.00am-11pm; Sun 9.00-10.30. For reservations call: 01423 202169.
CAU is opening a restaurant from the 20th October in the New Victoria Gate Development on Eastgate, Leeds if you want to experience it for yourself.