The best of South American Decadence at Gaucho, Piccadilly Circus
05 Jun 2016
Luckily for me, my dining-partner-in-crime for Gaucho Piccadilly had previously been to Argentina, so (I think) it was safe to assume he knew a good steak and bottle of Malbec to complement. We both came armed with empty stomachs and tired feet after long days in the office, so the French Fling cocktail was just what we needed to get started and just the right tool for approaching the vast menu.
The provenance philosophy of the brand has been tackled in food, but not in decor. Designer furnishings and striking glass and silver against coats of cowhide are maybe a little bit year 2000, but still glamorous all the same. The flagship restaurant in the heart of the West End was once home to a Spanish Ambassador, providing opportunity for multiple dining spaces, consumed with a convivial atmosphere.
Spending evenings in Peruvian restaurants Coya & Lima has caused me to fall head over leather with this South American style of food. It’s hard to want anything else when the smell of the sizzling Argentine meat glides its way through the restaurant, but the starters of Empanadas (choosing a minimum of two at £4.95 each) were welcomingly satisfying and scarily moreish, to be able to sit and graze on these all day would have been a day well spent. Beef was hand diced, ham was shredded, nutmegs and garlics were mixed together and the sweetness of raisins and peppers gave just the right touch. Seafood is also a winner with the Seafood Sampler (£16.50) of marinated shrimp, causita tuna, ceviche stone bass tiraditos.
The Gaucho steak delivers as much as the waiters – who sure know their stuff, offering an encyclopedia of meat knowledge and wine recommendations to help you choose. With more meat options than the paint aisle in B&Q they came over at the beginning of the meal to show us the cuts.
If you’re looking for something that isn’t just the run-of-the-mill steak, the spiral cut 400g Churrasco De Lomo (£47.95) has a special kind of kick to it, marinated in strong garlic, parsley and olive oil. The impressive Lomo Fillet (£45.50) had a delicate, yet tantalizing flavour (which according to my experienced dining partner is one of the best in London). The Humuta Saltena (£4.95) as a side dish was amazing, unusual, but amazing with sweet corn and mozzarella tucked inside a corn husk and of course there were some great Fat Chips, cooked in beef dripping.
I can’t boast to be a massive expert when it comes to the wine but the Argentinian 2012 Malbec complemented the steak perfectly with the bottle of Colome Lote Especial El Arenal (£59.50), the complex and firm taste with fierce colour has the ability to spiral any mortals night out of control. If you can manage a dessert after 400g of beef then Milk Chocolate and Praline Mousse (£8.50) will be love at first bite, with crunchy biscotti and toasted hazelnuts.
As ever with Gaucho it’s dressed to impress and can be placed up there with the best steakhouses in London, maybe the decor isn’t to everyone’s taste and some may comment on how very, very attentive the waiters are, but none of this would give anyone any real validation to not to want to go again and again and again.