Carne Argentina Unica, or CAU as it’s more commonly known, is a chain of Argentinian restaurants with 14 branches all over the UK. St Katherine Dock was a very welcome recent addition to their line up, not least because it took up residence next to the highly anticipated but disappointingly middling Tom’s Kitchen.
I’d been to this branch of CAU a couple of times previous, first to sample a luscious rib eye steak (and I am exceedingly picky about steak) and then an amazing juicy and chargrilled burger. After repeated statements that I would try their £15 Sunday roast “next time”, I finally did.
For £15 you do get the works – sliced roast rump, massive Yorkshire pud, roast taters cooked in beef dripping (the best kind!), the biggest single carrot I’ve ever been served and…onion rings. They were tasty though so will forgive them on that one aberration. It all looked brilliant, yet in the end was kind of…meh. First off the beef, although pleasingly pink, was chewy. Really, really chewy. As in jaw-muscles-aching-the-next-day chewy. I’ve never experienced that before, hence my panic at what might be going on with my face until the pieces fell into place. Since the meat wasn’t overcooked, I could only surmise the chewiness was due to the cut being marbled throughout with fine yet tough connective tissue which probably would have benefitted from MORE cooking – a low and slow roast is necessary to break down those tough bits. It also reminded me why I don’t usually order rump.
The rest of the roast was decent, but still average. The Yorkshire pudding was getting soft by the time it arrived, certainly not up to the airy and crisp standard as the “big as your head” puds I’ve had at Brown’s. Potatoes were nice as long as you didn’t get an over-roasted rock hard piece. The gravy was flavoursome, but the biggest flaw of the meal became evident when attempting to poor it – the roast is served on a wooden board. Of all the poncy, cheffy trends propagating at the moment the one I hate most is food being served on a board. Or a slate. As well as holding back on the gravy pouring so I wouldn’t end up with a pool in my lap, I had to carefully maneuver all my food around so it would stay on the board. The size was chosen specifically to fit all the stacked food precisely so it would look pretty as it was served, but it meant there was no extra room to cut up the food (especially the chewy meat, which needed a lot of cutting). Just give me a plate, man!!
Then onto dessert. We decided to share the three milk cake, as tackling the mix of condensed milk, cream, Italian meringue and rich cake would’ve been too challenging for one alone.
We’ve ordered the cake before and it was still sticky, creamy and naughty, but seemed to have decreased in size since last time. The Italian meringue also more resembled regular, unsweetened meringue and lacked the gooey marshmallow-ness of the former incarnation. Problems with consistency are evident.
Despite my reservations about what we ordered that day, I would still definitely go back. The reason? The fantastic burgers. And steak. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
One more thing – their “Ice cream sandwich” dessert only has biscuit on one side. That is NOT a sandwich, CAU. And don’t try to give me some “open-faced sandwich” crap.