Eats and treats

Gaucho Piccadilly, London

A couple of friends suggested I met them for lunch at Gaucho Piccadilly (there are a number of other Gaucho branches in London, they specialise in Argentinian dishes, but Piccadilly was the easiest for us all to reach). To be honest I wasn’t too sure as, dare I say it, I’m not a steak fan. Or, at least, I wasn’t.

A peek at Gaucho’s website had shown me that this restaurant was big in beef. ‘All our beef comes from Argentina.’ It proclaims, and goes on: ‘Only free range, grass fed, British breeds make the Gaucho grade. This and a 35-day wet ageing process ensures that our beef boasts an unparalleled leanness and richness’. Oh dear I thought! Oh well I love Argentinian wine, I was looking forward to seeing the girls – I went for it.

The entrance to Gaucho was worryingly dark, as was the Ladies loo; but I couldn’t have had a brighter greeting before being shown upstairs to our table. At first I found the décor rather over the top with its black and white cow hide wall covering, leather and chrome. But it works.

As it happened I needn’t have worried about having to eat steak, there was plenty of choice on the menu, but, I decided to be brave and on chef’s recommendation give steak another chance.

But before that a basket of three different breads (one gluten free); and as a starter Argentine king prawns – pan fried king prawns with a black pudding, fresh orange and romesco sauce arrived. It was heavenly, and a black pudding like I’ve never eaten before. The menu includes a new cut of steak called ‘Tapa de Ancho’, a really special cut from the top of the ribeye, it’s marbled with fat, which gives it a huge depth of flavour, and so tender you could cut it with a spoon. There are only two cuts of meat per cow, so it is a very special steak. The delicious glass of Malbec that accompanied it was pretty special too.

I decided against pudding – but I am weak willed – and the prospect of missing out on a dessert of Salted Dulce de Leche and Macadamia cheese cake with a salted caramel sauce proved too much. I succumbed!

There is more to Gaucho than just a restaurant. The Piccadilly branch is home to a wine bar holding some 150 Argentinian wines where special tasting events also take place. The Gaucho tango evenings sounded fun too. Gaucho also has a cookery school at the O2 branch. The staff has its own training academy: no wonder they are so good at what they do; and it was lovely to witness the pride they have in the company. The company also has interests in polo, various charities, and a motor yacht on the Thames plus a branch in Dubai.

Good quality ingredients do not come cheap, and Gaucho serves good quality ingredients; consequently a meal could work out a tad on the expensive side; but for the next special occasion I know where you will find me, and I am having steak! A.H.

Gaucho Piccadilly, 25 Swallow St, 25 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DJ: Tel: 020 7734 4040

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