Harden's survey result
Emerging from a financial rescue package (that has seen the owner of M Restaurants, and former Gaucho CEO, Martin Williams, return to the helm), this moodily decorated Argentinian steakhouse chain still somewhat divides reporters. Prime Latino cuts feature alongside a “well-curated” South American wine list, and even despite its difficulties, detractors don’t say the food is dire, merely that the experience can appear “dull” given the “eye-watering bills”. Better reports overall, though, do suggest some return to form, with a greater proportion of diners once again inclined to find it “good fun” and “expensive for a reason”. Top Tip – look out for their bottomless ‘beef & bottle’ deals.
Steaks are “perfectly nice” but prices are “silly” at this glossy, “dimly lit” Argentinian steak house chain (whose Latino wine list is also a feature) – perhaps explaining why it went into administration in summer 2018. Under a rescue package that saw sibling brand Cau shut down, former CEO Martin Williams (who left in 2014 to set up M Restaurants) is returning to the helm. As of September 2018, it remains to be seen how many of the 12 London venues will stay open.
As “a place to impress”, especially on business, these well-known Argentinian steak houses are still well-recommended by some reporters for their “fine steaks” and “fabulous South American wines”. Even fans can find the bill “noticeably painful” however, particularly given the “indifferent” service, and critics feel the overall offering is “bland” and “outrageously overpriced”.
“It used to be so good, what happened?” London’s first upscale contemporary steak-house chain still wins praise for its “pretty fine Argentinian meat”, and “wonderful” Latino wines, but its glitzy (sometimes “very loud and very dark”) branches have increasingly “lost their charm”. “Stratospheric” prices are the main issue, and “with so many good steak options at all levels these days, it’s hard to see where Gaucho fits in”.
Gaucho Grill EC2
You would have to be a very gay cowboy indeed to dream up this new Broadgate branch of the Argentinean chain. Vast, semi-subterranean, upholstered with cowhide and lit with many chandeliers (style cliché of the moment), this is a steakhouse as might have been conceived by Liberace.
My visit did not start off well: the staff seemed to have difficulty locating the table I had booked. Thereafter, however, everything was pretty much sweetness and light. Our young waitress (Brazilian, since you ask) was certainly very charming, and, in the best way, surprisingly un-rushed.
Her first task was to bring us a platter groaning with great slabs of meat, and a long spiel about why you should have each type cooked in a particular way. We in fact chose from the menu: for our main courses we had a rib-eye (too small to have been dignified with a place on the platter) and ravioli. My guest - who combines a Madonna-style exercise régime with high steak consumption - pronounced the meat exceptional. More surprising was the pasta, which was very competent indeed. Pasta? There are indeed a few surprises on the food front here. One is that the long menu includes quite a lot for non-carnivores. The other is even more of a shock: most of the non-meat items - including, on our visit, excellent scallop ceviche, as well as very good bread and coffee - are done to an impressive standard.
By this point, I was confident that the bill would knock me for six. We were
right in the heart of money-broking land after all. But no: under £80 for a good lunch for two, with three glasses of wine (and, for pudding, a shared plate of excellent churros). And that, in this neck of the woods, is really quite a bargain.
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Last orders: 10.45 pm