I’m a big believer in ‘the birthday week’. Birthdays don’t just come and go on one solitary day, they need to be dragged out as long as physically possible with cocktails every evening, multiple nights of wining and dining, and an abundance of presents.
So when my partner, Dave’s, 30th birthday started rapidly approaching, I knew it needed to be the birthday week of all weeks.
And to kick off the seven days in style, what could be better than a fancy steak dinner?
As huge steak lovers, it’s always our go to ‘special meal’. Anniversary, birthday, new job? Let’s go out for steak!
So, we went to Cau in Brindley Place, Birmingham, on a Friday night, the week before Dave’s actual birthday.
I chose Cau, an Argentinian steak restaurant, after enjoying a delicious Sunday roast beef dinner there about a year and a half ago. It seemed like the sort of place that had that extra bit of ‘fancy’. Normally we would go to Miller & Carter, or Coast to Coast, when we needed our steak fix, but it was a birthday (and a big birthday at that) so why not try something new?
Cau was first designed to fit perfectly in the heart of Palermo, Buenos Aires and reflect the area’s spirit, vitality, passion and sense of fun.
Its menu is Buenos Aires cuisine, comfort food inspired by Italy, Spain and Argentina.
Each dish, from steaks to burgers to sandwiches, is served up with its own special Argentinian twist. Once we were seated – the restaurant is all black and silver with dimmed lights, perfect for couples – we got straight onto ordering cocktails (of course).
Dave picked a classic Espresso Martini, his go-to cocktail at every restaurant, while I went for a Cau-Girl Martini (basically a Pornstar Martini but topped up with sparkling rosé rather than Prosecco).
We’d already decided all three courses were a must (again, birthdays only come once a year) so got busy browsing the menu.
There’s plenty to choose from, with the menu divided into starters, mains, sides and sauces and then ‘the beef’. Naturally, the beef gets a whole section just for itself.
If you don’t fancy steak, there are burgers of all kinds, coal-grilled spatchcock chicken and something very exciting-sounding called BBQ pulled pork Argentine arepa, served with homemade fried pumpkin bread, pico de gallo, smashed avocado and coriander cress (I feel like I need to try that next time).
There are also a few vegetarian options for those who have been dragged to a steak restaurant by their meat-eating friends and family, including gnocchi arrabbiata, a breaded sweet potato and mozzarella veggie burger and a supercharged salad served with goats cheese, avocado and beetroot.
But I wanted steak. So instantly, my attention was turned to ‘the beef’.
They offer classic cuts, like sirloin, ribeye and rump, and also chef’s cuts, such as medallions, lomito, tapa de cuadril, asado de chorizo, and Cau’s ‘ultimate steak’ tira de ancho. Even reading the menu made my mouth water, despite the fact I barely understood what any of the words meant.
But first, starters. I opted for empanadas, Argentinian filled mini pasties, one Spanish chorizo and cream cheese and one spicy beef.
I made the mistake of asking Dave if he’d like a taste and watched in horror as he promptly chomped a huge bite of the delicious Spanish chorizo and cream cheese pasty (my favourite of the two). I naively thought he’d take a polite nibble, so won’t be making that mistake again.
In return I demanded a taste of his braised pork belly tempura – tender pork bites in a light, crispy batter served with homemade tomato sauce. Tasty, but in my opinion definitely not as nice as the empanadas – I’d made a good choice.
For the mains (back to ‘the beef’) we arrogantly discussed the menu like we were experts.
Dave (realising he didn’t have to pay as it was his birthday) excitedly chose the extravagant 500g Asado de Chorizo, a sirloin steak in a churrasco marinade, while – after a lot of deliberating – I ended up settling on what I always go for. My safe option. The classic 7oz (220g) sirloin steak. It’s always a winner.
We both picked a side order each of hand cut chips and skipped the veg (bad, I know) before I made a last-minute order, an exciting sauce I’d not seen on a steak restaurant menu before – chimichurri butter.
The difference when the dishes came out was staggering, Dave’s monster steak towered above mine threateningly – and it smelt incredible. He reliably informed me it was delicious, and I believed him, as he wouldn’t even let me have a bite.
My steak, although smaller (my own fault as I didn’t choose the monster steak), was melt-in-your-mouth. Tender, soft, and full of flavour. I slathered the chimichurri butter all over the top before even tasting it, I just knew it would somehow work. And it did. The butter gave the steak a tiny chilli kick. Perfect.
The chips though, I felt I must have mentioned them all throughout dinner. “Aren’t these good chips?!” I said in shock, multiple times while Dave enthusiastically nodded, a mouth full of steak.
I love fat chips, would choose them every time over skinny fries. Every time. And these were just the tastiest fat chips I’d had in a very long time. Crispy on the outside and so very fluffy in the middle. It really made the meal.
Often, I’ve enjoyed a delicious steak in a restaurant and the chips have been a let down – just like chips you bung in the oven at home. It’s always so wonderful, and such a treat, when chefs go the extra mile to make the entire dish a sensation.
There we were, two courses down, I was stuffed, and so tired all of a sudden – packed with food.
But, as always, I perked up when pudding was mentioned.
The dessert menu boasts churros, dulce de leche chocolate pancakes, banoffee mess, and so many other tempting offers, but we both decided on the cornflake sundae. Because why wouldn’t you?
I felt like a little kid when it came. A huge glass piled with cornflake-flavoured ice cream (yes, really), actual cornflakes, crumbled chocolate brownie and dulce de leche.
It really did taste like cornflakes too, that ice cream. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been telling people about it ever since.
The total bill came to £96.30 (not including a tip) which, considering Dave’s monster steak was £35.95 on its own, I counted to be a good deal for a special birthday dinner.
The staff were friendly, helpful and checked in just the right amount – they even let me set up the table with a little birthday banner and a big helium balloon reading ‘30th’ birthday (sorry Dave).
Cau was fabulous. Would I go back? Of course. But I’d probably keep my visits just for special occasions so not to break the bank.
It was worth it this time for a wonderful and delicious birthday meal.