Gaucho, Swallow StreetPosted in Where to Eat & Drink Now
Obsidian surfaces, cowhide chairs and mirrors on the ceiling. Nope, this isn't Hotel California. This is Gaucho and it's a hell of a ride.
From the cobbles of Swallow Street it’s hard to distinguish any forms or features through its tinted gargantuan window frames. Take a few steps inside this dark boudoir and you’ll soon discover that this is the place where those with a lascivious eye for red meat and stylish surroundings come to feed.
Roughly translating to ‘cowboy’ in Argentinean, Gaucho bounces off the American notion of a steak house, injects all the potencies of fine dining and sprinkles a generous amount of South American flair on the now tired TGI concept. The opal chandeliers and ambient mood lighting may serve as the only form of illumination, but once your eyes have adjusted you’ve forgotten all about the practicalities of light in the first place. This is the darkside of the culinary world, and you know what? It looks sexy as hell.
Above: The Private Dining Area @ Gaucho Piccadilly
Gaucho Piccadilly spans across three floors and includes a private vaulted wine cellar. As with many aspects of the restaurant, the vaulted cellars beneath the main complex are nothing like you’d expect. The arched ceilings are padded with leather and the contemporary cream chairs hold strange throwbacks to the lair of the famous Bond villain, Dr. No. These vaulted subterranean haunts are available for private hire and would make an ideal venue for that intimate rendezvous or that wild party. You feel naughty just looking at it.
The ground floor wine bar is devilishly elegant. Pull up a stool at the granite bar, occupy a booth with your partner or catch up with your party at a table. We ordered two glasses of ALMA 4 Santa Rose Mendoza at £8.25 each and sat a booth. Never before had I experienced a full-bodied sparkling red wine. Served in graceful champagne flutes and set against a background of black leather and slanting mirrors, I found it all too easy to imagine myself as an immortal enjoying a bloody beverage.
Above: The First Floor Restaurant @ Gaucho, Piccadilly
The main restaurant on the first floor sports cowhide rugs that have been mounted to double as colourful editions to the black walls, cowhide chairs and cowhide booths. Gaucho looks to sell itself as carnivore heaven; so I thought it only fair to bring along a Vegetarian Friend.
A compromise was on the cards. To avoid anything vegetarian we decided to avoid all share dishes that advocated themselves as starters. This was a crying shame because items on the menu such as the handpicked crab with quail eggs, avocado, red onion and potato were begging to be demolished by my bloody-thirsty gnashers. So we chose from the side menu, a wise decision in hindsight because it left more space for the lavish and succulent main.
Above: The Wine Cellar @ Gaucho Piccadilly
Eventually we ordered sweet potato chips with chorizo and the spinach with garlic lemon as sides. It’s always a laborious task to force sweet potato to crisp, but the sweet potato in this dish was certainly not mushy and worked in harmony with the zingy flavours of the chorizo. I was informed by my Vegetarian Friend that the spinach and garlic lemon was lovely. ‘Better you than me’, I thought.
Before long, our waiter, Emiliano produced a selection of three bulbous meats on a butchers’ board; rib eye, rump and Sirloin. Free flowing with expert knowledge about each of the proteinaceous stars on show, it was eventually decided that for a bloodier steak the rump would be my best shot. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help it; I like my meat rare and juicy. On the flipside my Vegetarian Friend ordered the risotto verde with green butter, asparagus, parmesan and almonds.
Above: How Gaucho Piccadilly Looks From The Outside
The excitement was mounting. Emiliano recommended a glass of the Argentinean melbec, El Porvenir De Los Andes ‘Laborum’ to accompany my rump steak while my Vegetarian Friend ordered a glass of the Cristobal 1492 Chianti.
The food arrived. The rump steak was so bloody and tender that it could probably cut itself without any aid from a knife. My Vegetarian Friend’s face lit up like a jackolantern as she tucked into her risotto.
“This is the best risotto I’ve ever tasted”, she said after a few mouthfuls.
I smiled and popped a few forkfuls of flavoursome steak into my mouth. As it turned out, 400 grams was a heck of a lot of meat even if it did taste celestial and I noticed that my Vegetarian Friend was also struggling to finish her plate. Portion sizes are large so don’t panic about leaving any bread or starters before the main event. Gaucho doesn’t do things by halves.
Above: Booths @ Gaucho Piccadilly
As it turns out, Emiliano’s recommendation of wine to suit the meal was infallible. The melbec was mature, soft on the pallet and added that all important bold infusion to my rump steak. The Chianti was light and chronically drinkable. Sated and full of praise for our food, My Vegetarian Friend and I agreed that black is a colour that’ll go with anything. If you think Gaucho is a one dimensional blood bath, think again.
Gaucho in a nutshell? Carnivores: Being bad never felt so good. Vegetarians: Although the choice is sparse the food is delectable.
Top Tip: The top floor turns into a nightclub after 12. If you fancy a boogie after your food then this is the place to do so.
25 Swallow Street,
London, W1B 4QR