After our early evening enjoying endless Chandon and eyebrow defining at Benefit’s Beauty, Bubbles and Beats event at their Carnaby Street store, we wanted to continue the night’s theme of indulgence. Luckily, just a short walk was away was a steller solution, giving us an excuse to marvel at more christmas street lights and gain some festive feels on route via the iconic Hamley’s toy store.
Gaucho has been on our dining out wish-list for a while now. I first became aware of this sleek food and drink destination when it became a celebrity hot-spot, featuring heavily on the websites I know I shouldn’t be visiting so regularly (guilty pleasures). There was a period of time when a day couldn’t pass without a well known face being spotted heading into or leaving the Piccadilly restaurant.
Having visited the restaurant last Friday, I now completely understand it’s allure. Sitauted in Swallow Street, it feels somewhat secluded and discrete in comparison to the throng of nearby Regent Street. Greeted by a smartly dressed gentlemen stood just inside the intricate doorway and stepping into the impressive building, you instantly feel like you are entering a glamorous environment. The dimly lit entrance/reception area is punctuated by staff wanting to cater to any question or need you have, making it ideal for those who like to feel thoroughly looked after while out of the public glare.
The elegent lady on the reception was absolutely charming, and wanted to ensure we got the best table available, even though we arrived a substantial amount of time ahead of our original booking. Despite the luxe surroundings her manner wasn’t stuffy or overly formal. Natural and warm in personality, she asked about my blogging, and excitedly shared her desire to start own travel blog. Despite the fact the decadent decor had made us worry we were a bit underdressed, she made us feel incredibly welcome, and like we belonged in this sophisticated setting.
We were guided to our table was on the first floor. The atmosphere of the room was buzzing, even though it was relatively early on this Friday evening. Gaucho’s reputation obviously ensures its continued hot-spot dining status. With it’s padded black leather wall and booths, the mirrored panels, extravagant chandeliers, cow hide chairs and dim lighting, it’s impossible not to feel a little bit sexy in this space. The building actually plays host to an electic assortment of interiors, each with their own unique vibe – including vaulted wine cellars and a stunning tiled private
dining room. So whether you’ve booked a table for a business lunch, looking to impress and woo a date, enjoy a much needed post-work cocktail or a have a natter and a smoke under shelter, your need is catered for.
On this occasion were going to be picking from the Signature Menu (see below). Everything described on the main menu sounded equally desirable, so we were actually incredibly grateful to have our options reduced somewhat. That said, everything on this curated list made us swoon too – a nightmare for indecisive people that enjoy food (like we do). There are worse nightmares though, lets be honest!
Still a bit flummuxed about what to choose, our knowledgable waiter was eager and willing to help us with our quandary, explaning some of the dishes which were new to us, and advising which sides would compliment etc. During this extended time of pondering, hevery kindly ensured that our flutes were topped up with Chandon Sparkling wine at all times – what a nice man. Before our food arrived the charming and endearingly chipper floor manager introduced himself, and explained that much like Speedy Gonzales he would rush around to ensure all our needs were met.
While we waited with antiscipation for our chosen courses, we were given an assortment of bread enjoy. The devil is in the detail in my opinon, and I think even this stage of a meal can give you a clue as to how much you’ll enjoy the overall experience. I particularly relished the flat breads, and appreciated that we had various accompaniements to add extra interest and flavour to our introduction to Gaucho.
Beef Empanadas – Hand diced beef, red peppers, raisons, Spanish onions and cumin.
I will admit to a quick google session before choose the Empanadas. Although I am sure all of my readers are extremely worldly and knowledgable about international cuisine, I will jog your memory with this definition I found.
An empanada is a stuffed brean or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin Europe, Latin America, the Southwestern United States, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.
Empanadas are made by folding dough or bread with stuffing consisting of a variety of meat, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables, fruits, and others.
Argentine empanadas are often served during parties and festivals as a starter or
main course. Shops specialize in freshly made empanadas, with many
flavors and fillings.
The dough is made with wheat flour and beef drippings for the fillings which differs from province to province. Some places use chicken, and some places beef (cubed or ground depending on the region) spiced with cumin and paprika.
The pastry was wonderfully crumbly and when cut into exposed a piping hot centre of juicy and tender cubed beef. I told myself I’d only eat one of them to ensure I had room for my main course. Unfortunatly the deliciousness combined with my lack of will power meant that the second was demolished within a couple of minutes. Although I have no basis of comparison when it comes to Empanadas, my first experience will definitely not be my last. I am very used to heavily spiced food, stong in chilli and heat, but this was a relatively subtle in terms of spice and made for a nice way to kick off a meal.
Argentine Chorizo, a combination of pork and beef, confit peppers and pickled onion.
The fact that I didn’t manage to get a picture of Simon’s starter before half of it was gone, says a lot about how delicious this creation was. The sausage was very well seasoned, extremely meaty and browned to perfection. The sweet balsamic lifted the dish and was the ideal accompliment to the sausage, as were the soft roasted peppers and red onions. There were a lot of almost inappropriate noises coming from that end of the table, but I didn’t tell you that ok!
Side dishes – Chips, Mushrooms, Rocket and provolone salad, Humita saltena, French beans.
We were able to sample all of the side dishes (a tad indulgent I know), but at least it means I can offer up a thorough review of your menu options. I can’t abide Mushrooms, I think it’s a texture issue, but Simon is adament that this will change as my palette continues to mature. I don’t agree of course, but to keep the mood of the dinner jovial I did as I was asked and gave one of them a try. They were lovely and buttery with the right amount of bite. I agreed that if I was a fan of mushrooms that these would be an exemplery version of how they should be served. The chips were pleasingly crunchy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside, with a slightly rustic look to them. As a ardent potato fan-girl you would have thought they would be my favourite side, but the Rocket and provolone salad was actually my winner. The sweetness of balsamic dressing laced over the rocket leaves, was a lovely light accompaniement to my decadent steak.
Lomo Medallions 225g – Fillet served with bearnaise sauce
I was extremely chuffed with my medallions. It’s very rare that I get a steak that I don’t have to cut sinew, fat or tough bits out of. It was soft, tender, juicy and not even a mere morsal was left on my plate by the end of the meal. I would even go as far to say that it was the highest quaity steak I’ve ever had.
Bife de Ancho 300g – Rib eye served with chimichurri
The steak was cooked to the specified medium rare, and full of flavour, which you hope when choosing this particiular cut. According to Simon, who is very particular when it comes to his steak, it was mouthwateringly tender, easy to cut….pure perfection. Si was particularly pleased with the addition of chimichurri, and found it to be a welcome change from the creamy richness of his usual peppercorn sauce. The parsley and vinegar contained in the chimichurri added a refreshing element to a dish which was already rich due to the quality of the beef.
What is Chimichurri?
Chimichurri or chimmichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from the Rio de la Plata, Argentina. It is made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar. In Uruguay, the dominant flavoring is parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, and fresh oregano.
We weren’t sure what this dish was when we saw it on the menu, we tried to do some discrete googling, but thankfully our waiter was more than happy to educate us. As sweetcorn fans, we were excited to give it a go, particularly being an Angentinian specialty. Taste wise it was very much you are used to with sweetcorn, but the texture defintely wasn’t what we usually associate with the flavour. It was an instant hit for Simon, but I think it will be a grower for me as the fussier eater.
If I go to a restaurant specialising in a foreign cusine, or a particular cooking technique, I always like to experiement and try new things. If you don’t you could potentially miss out on discovering the most delicious thing to ever grace your taste buds.
Humita is a Native American dish from pre-Hispanic times, and a traditional food in Argentina Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. It consists of masa harina and corn, slowly steamed or boiled in a pot of water.
In Argentina, humitas are prepared with fresh corn, sautéed onions and some spices, depending on the region or taste. The dough is wrapped in corn husks and boiled. It is also common to add some diced cheese to the dough, typically goat cheese.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake – Salted Dulce de Leche
Dulce de leche is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a substance that derives its taste from the Maillard Reaction, changing flavour and colour. Literally translated, it means “candy [made] of milk” or “sweet [made] of milk.
Simon is a savoury fan, so I should be the one to review our chosen dessert. The cheesecake had a delicious toffee flavour to it (due to the technique described above), but it was rather dense, so the compact size was well judged. The chocolate earth also made for a welcome texture variant against the smoothness of the cheescake and cream swipe. I think it struck the perfect balance of the sweetness sugar fiends like myself desire from a dessert, without being too sickly.
Before we left we relished another glass of Chandon bubbles, while letting our showstopping meal digest a bit. A rather nice excuse to absorb the swish surroundings a bit longer before smacking back down to reality with a trip on the underground. I can’t talk enough about the restoritive effects of a night out of this nature. Our working weeks can be overwhelmingly stressful. Late night’s in the office, lost lunches, commute emailing….we sometimes find little time to enjoy life’s pleasurable moments – the times where we can chat (or rant), relax or simlply take in the pleasing surroundings. It’s so important to your well being and generally happiness try and schedule in these nights of pampering and indulgence. It’s Christmas too, so for goodness sake treat yourself!
If you are looking to hold a glam event over the Christmas period, many of the spaces are available for exclusive use – specialist wine boutique Cavas De Gaucho
can be hired for private events, while the cellars cater for larger
parties and tailored food experiences.
Now if you can’t manage to get to Gaucho anytime soon, you’ve got to try and bring some of their pizzaz and style to your evenings in. I thought I’d treat you to a Chandon recipe so you can impress your guests with during party season. Don’t say I don’t treat you good!
Chandon Messi Mate
40ml Terba Mate infused Belvedere*
20ml lemon juice
20ml simple syrup
2.5ml ginger syrup
1 dash Angostura
Pour ingredients over a fresh pineapple slice into an ice filled cabernet glass.
*35g Mate infused for 10min in 700ml of Belvedere
Chandon is available to purchase from selected retailers
including Drinks Supermarket
RRP Brut £14.99 per 750ml bottle
RRP Rosé £15.99 per 750ml bottle
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