We realise this might not be the first restaurant that springs to mind for a health issue – although we certainly had our recommended dose of iron – but don’t worry, we turned veggie and teetotal for the rest of the week to make up for our over indulgence.
As you’d expect, the main event is beef with a number of cuts displayed and explained at the table which I found a bit off-putting weirdly given I’m a carnivore. A minor and very personal gripe. There are some cracking fish and vegetarian options as well as meat, so there’s no reason you should break those irritating resolutions if you were daft enough to have made them.
We find bread in mid-range restaurants often a bit meh, but not here. We could have nibbled the warm cheesey little rolls all day long. Sourdough with a punchy garlic-packed chimichurri pleased too.
While the friend settled on the set menu, £24.50 for three courses, which had enough options not to feel hard done, I stuck with a la carte. The friend’s starter was everything you might hanker after in a cold snap and if you love a raclette on the slopes, you need the baked provoleta (cheese) in your belly. It’s basically an unctuous hot skillet of gooey melted cheese with caramelised onions atop and crisp sourdough to dunk. Nuff said.
I opted for sweetbreads (mollejas) which were coated in ají amarillo batter served with pickled Guindilla chilli and a saffron sauce (£8.50). It was light and bright, full of flavour and perfectly cooked. The canary yellow sauce was sweet and spicy and utterly brilliant.
The friend went all in with a 300g ribeye (Ancho), thyme chips and bearnaise sauce which was superb. Beef was charred on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside and seasoned well. Chips were crisp and fluffy while bearnaise sauce was a smooth tarragon packed triumph.
Pork belly (£19.95) was moist and tasty although the crisp skin described on the menu as crackling – it wasn’t – was a bit burnt. Celeriac mash was dreamy in the way only chef’s mash can while zingy pickled red cabbage and a cider jus added freshness. Really delicious.
Portions were generous and dessert was wholly unnecessary – is it ever? – but when in Rome and all that. Chocolate fondant (£8.50) was everything you’d expect – oozing warm chocolate, a crisp outer, fantastic ice cream and a shortbread crumb. Churros came highly recommended by our waitress, who was fantastic by the way, and came sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and a sweet moreish chocolatey dipping sauce.
We found the whole experience pretty joyful – the surroundings were glamorous and cooking and service brilliant. Gaucho is often put in special occasion territory but we’d recommend doing yourself a favour and not saving it for best.