Gaucho has real cowhide draped onto the seats and if that’s a huge turn off for you, hear me out before you write off this place - although I completely understand if you wish to do so.
If I’m honest, cowhide is not my scene either, although I’m not one to preach. I’m no Cruella, but I didn’t seek out this infamous spot to revel in the restaurants clear laissez faire attitude towards animal rights.
It’s Gaucho, the city’s notoriously plush Argentinian steakhouse. I mean, when our menu was explained to us, they bought out large slabs of beef on a wooden board to explain the cuts.
It was quite the sight, there was just so much bloody cow. So if the idea of proud, meat-loving, unabashed, South American cuisine alarms you, think twice.
But if you are looking for an opulent place to dine in the city’s most quaint village, where all cares are forgotten from the moment the doors are opened for you to step into an atmosphere which oozes luxury, you’ve come to the right place.
After polishing off two of the finest cocktails I’ve had in far too long, I crumbled slightly when our waiter chuckled as he bought over the meat board and said “no vegetarians in the house today I assume?”
But quick as a flash as if it was no trouble at all, he talked us through all my options before explaining the steak options to my companion and we were bought over a selection of starters for my companion and I.
And so began our feast and there is no other word for it. It started with empanadas, an Argentinian parcel-come-pie specialty, sun-dried tomato, basil, emmental cheddar and mozzarella, along with three different types of delicious bread and three dips to match.
My companion opted for the Lomo fillet steak – “lean and tender” - and we were given a spread of sides, fresh, well-seasoned spinach, fluffy thick cut chips, humita saltena served in a corn husk with sweetcorn and mozzarella.
Each dish was full of with unique flavours, delicately prepared in immaculate, Instagram-able shapes, all of which complimented the beautiful Argentinian wine, which was the closest thing to drinking heaven in a bottle.
I chose the chestnut mushroom and truffle risotto which was by far the best risotto I’ve had and not served up and some kind of vegetarian afterthought.
Our indecision, far from annoying our waiter, only spurred him into helping us decide, and by decide I mean letting him bring us what he thought was the best – which turned out to be a platter of a few desserts to share.
Stuffed from the first two courses, we still managed to polish off the tangy, fresh berry pudding, honeycombe and ice cream banana split and a soft, light, fruity mouse topped with nuts.
Whether it was the dark setting slowly lulling me into it’s relaxed arms, or the sheer amount of food, it was a gloriously fulfilling end to an astonishingly good dining experience.
So much so, that the following week, I returned to sit in their newly opened terrace on a Sunday afternoon with a coffee and four of the most delicately made truffles to check if it was a one off. No, they were splendidly charming as always.
Gaucho is about steak, but it’s not just about steak, it’s about having a bite of the Argentinian apple. And I highly recommend it for anyone, steak eaters or not. Oh and side note, my seat didn’t have cow hide near it. Ask for the table at the back left.