Just Add Malbec

Just Add Malbec

We went to Brindleyplace's new CAU restaurant. Had wine.

It's been a while since we got granular on a new opening. And it's been even longer since we confused you about whether you wanted rib-eye, porridge or a reasonably priced bottle of Malbec by way of your fast break. Carne Argentina Unica - or CAU - opened on Monday at 5pm. We'd taken our seats 54 minutes later.

Ask anyone who works at Brindleyplace's newest addition what you should order and with wild eyed excitement, one of the kitchen's seven cuts of grass-fed, Aberdeen Angus (straight from the Pampas) will be the response. CAU is a restaurant with a dedicated, walk-in meat fridge, which we know, because we've been in it. Ram-packed with large cuts, ready to be crafted into lomitos (fillets of rump), sirloin or - the exec chef's pick - rib-eye, the meat is shipped directly from the lowlands of Argentina and finished off on a specially commissioned German grill, which forms the centre of the kitchen.

What the team probably won't tell you about (but really should) is the jollifying selection of small plates which - whisper it - we actually enjoyed more than the main event. Be sure to attend with a pro-sharing type, and hit up the tuna carpaccio (£6.95), a selection of empanadas (two for £7) and the yerba-smoked beef (£6.95). Exuding quality, both the tuna and beef were rather wonderful in their own right and their respective dressings (including capers and chilli for the fish and a soy-wasabi happening for the meat), kept both dishes interesting until the last bite. The spicy creamed corn empanada was the surprise victor of our impromptu pastry-off.

Given the less than South American weather, it was intrigue rather than desire which caused us to opt for a glass of the Salta Clericot (£5.25). An Argentinian drink, with regional wine, red and white grapes, passion fruit purée and basil leaves, the Sangria-style refresher was happily balanced and far less sweet than it sounds. Expect jugs of the stuff to appear on the restaurant's thirty-seater terrace throughout the summer. You'll also find La Gringer Pilsner, plus 16 wines, designed for and exclusive to CAU. If you're limiting yourself to a solitary glass (killjoy), the Mendozan Malbec (£7.75), titled 'Graffiti' for no reason we can discern, is the way to go.

While CAU is an experienced purveyor of the weekend brunch, Brum is the first place in which it will be doing the whole breakfast thing. Open from 8am in the week and 9am come the weekend, our first order will be the Latin Eggs (£7), which are poached and come with grilled avocado, fresh hollandaise and a drizzle of chimichurri (which - by the way - is the sauce to opt for at every opportunity). A bolder morning move would be the Steak & Eggs (£9) - tapa de cuadril flash grilled with two fried hen’s eggs. Is it legal to marry a breakfast yet?


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