In February, I predicted that Caju would be a leading sensation on the Bucharest restaurant market. I was, of course, correct. But they have just updated their menu, so I am approaching them as if they were a new venture.
By Michael Barclay
So let’s look them over. The venue is the same, as are the décor and the clientele. The consistency of the diners is due to their being a brasserie, and that needs defining. A brasserie serves fine food in a chill-out atmosphere with no dress code applied, simply mid-range food at mid-range prices.
So let’s eat. Starters are priced around RON 35 with mains kicking in mostly under RON 50. I had a superb porcini (mushroom) stuffed in a ricotta (cheese) tortellini, the latter looking like a giant pasta ravioli. It was perfect. Once you try mushroom varieties which are an alternative to the boring, white button mushrooms which predominate in all Northern European dishes, you will enter a new gastronomic world.
Off to ‘fish and chips London style’, which was nothing of the sort. They gave us fried cod in batter (correct) but the House was having a laugh with the chips which should have been thick sliced potato cooked three times and all washed in malt vinegar. Nope, we got baked potato wedges instead. Although ethnically incorrect, it was nonetheless good, and my table loved it.
Away to their new dishes, most of which were starters. A wonderful gazpacho was on offer. This Spanish Andalusian ice-cold vegetable soup has no strictly defined recipe; suffice it to say that fresh tomato should predominate. The House ran riot with the liberal flexibility of this dish and added parsnip mousse and dried cranberries.
It was excellent, and I would advise you to add a large slug of vodka to it whilst your dining partner is not looking. That would give you the world’s finest Bloody Mary.
So off to a beef carpaccio. This, like all carpaccios, is wafer thin raw sliced beef, and like the gazpacho, there are no fixed rules applied. So the House has been innovative by adding fried camembert, crispy cauliflower, and, believe it or not, strawberries.
Away to a salmon carpaccio, which is a raw salmon with a honeyed vegetable vinaigrette. These two carpaccios were both a relief from the other raw offerings in town, namely shoddy, overpriced sushi which is growing on menus all over town.
My only gripe was with the sea bream fillet. It was huge, and was swimming with a wonderful selection of vegetables. It was perfect, save for the fact that it was just another dish which is available at every restaurant in the land, so stupid me for ordering it.
My fellow diners added to the overall ambiance of the House, which was young, cool and buzzy. It is the ‘go to’ place to casually dine out.