It turns out to be all gravy at steak supremo Gaucho, with a wine list that elevates an all-round decadent experience
By Jennifer Caira
My first experience of Gaucho Edinburgh was on my birthday three years ago, when we ended up in the glamorous, wine-stacked private dining room because of the size of our party. It was a brilliant night, so I was excited to try the restaurant again. The only hitch was my recent decision to go pescatarian (although this turned out to be to our advantage, as we could vary up our choices) so I took my meat-obsessed partner to make sure we didn’t miss out on any of the alluring-sounding dishes available on the menu.
If you haven’t been to Gaucho yet, the interior design alone makes it feel like a special night out, with a lustworthy bar facing you as soon as you walk in and a grand staircase descending to the dining room, which is filled with cosy booths and fairy-lit tree-style decor punctuating the room.
We began with a couple of aperitifs. I went for an Elder 75, a lemony gin-based cocktail topped up with Argentinian sparkling wine (naturally). My partner bravely tried the Zacapa Negroni – a twist on the classic, swapping out the gin for Ron Zacapa rum. Not for the faint-hearted but surprisingly moreish, he assured me.
The restaurant was bursting at the seams with customers that night, but the service was absolutely impeccable – fast and friendly. Our main waiter was incredibly knowledgeable about wine (not a sommelier, he assured us, just really into the stuff) and made choosing what to sample an interesting and fun juncture in our evening, as opposed to the usual pretend-you-know-what-you’re-talking-about-then-choose-the-second-cheapest-bottle kind of experience. He kindly let us try the house wine, which was decent: a Malbec from Viña Patricia, Gaucho’s own vineyard in Mendoza which they launched in 2007.
In the end, as I opted for fish and my partner ordered a steak, our waiter was really keen that we choose a wine that would complement both dishes. On his recommendation, we plumped for Masseria Li Veli, a bold red from Puglia which we both loved.
As this was starting to feel like a special night, we went for three courses; to start, a delicious burrata and tomato salad on toasted sourdough and beef carpaccio for the meat lover, which arrived fanned out over the plate and accompanied by traditional Argentinian chimichurri, a tangy mix of chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar. An equally flavourful hake was served up for my main, and after um-ing and ah-ing over whether he could really manage a steak that was described on the menu as “for gluttony or sharing,” my partner opted for an appropriately sized tira de ancho (“spiral cut, slow grilled”). He likes his meat blue and the same lovely waiter suggested this was the best cut for his preference. They compromised on serving it rare, which when it came to the taste test, he was more than happy with. Buttered lettuce and mac & cheese sides were a pleasingly decadent companion to a spot-on second course.
We ended with lemon meringue pie and a dulce de leche cheesecake, which I regretfully stared at wishing I had ordered one for myself, because it was sensational. With the final foray being a couple of glasses of Bocchino Gran Moscato grappa (although the restaurant also has a tempting selection of dessert cocktails), we decided to end the night. The top button had already been undone and I was almost dozing on the tablecloth, so we headed home into the night contentedly fed. We now have our beady eyes set on Sundays at Gaucho where – to any meat aficionado’s delight – you can enjoy a ‘bottomless roast’ for a pretty economical £32.50 per person.