Thursday, 25 July 2013

Gaucho Tower Bridge: "Hi, steaks!"

Last weekend, my good friend G decided to have a birthday rendezvous in Gaucho Tower BridgeGaucho is a chain of Argentinian steak houses in the UK which usually comes up in a pool of suggestions when people ask where to 1) take someone out on a first date; 2) have dinner with clients; or 3) have decent (enough) steak. I personally think the Tower Bridge branch is heaps nicer than their establishments in Central London. It still had the classic Gaucho feel of sexy glammed up interiors but the cow-hide upholstery was a bit more subdued and less overwhelming. 

It was a pleasant summer day when we got there so it only felt right to take photos while waiting for our reservation. Here's a photo of my friends and I by More Place... 

...by Tower Bridge...

...and by the City Hall

I promise you, we didn't talk about dressing up in monochrome! But it was quite hilarious as we matched Gaucho's black-and-white interiors. Quite rightly, the birthday girl stood out in an awesome pop of blue.
The Filo Supper Club girls, missing R & K

 Meet the birthday girl. Isn't she a cutie?

On to the food then.

The bread basket is complimentary here but I'd happily pay if I had to. The traditional South American pao de queijo balls were crusty outside with a soft, cheesy and oniony interior. The flat grilled bread pieces, which resembled halloumi, had a semi-hard cheese like texture but tasted like thick buttery crepes. The bread was so moreish we had to stop ourselves for fear of getting full.

A server gave us a rundown of steak cuts on offer: ancho (rib-eye), lomo (fillet), cuadril (rump) and chorizo (sirloin)He also advised a bit on how each cut is best served.

I didn't know which cut I was in the mood for so I ordered the trio of medalions (£27.20) which had cuts of the fillet, the rib-eye and the rump at 100g per piece. I asked if they can cook each cut at different temperatures: rare for fillet and rump, medium rare for rib-eye. The server said of course, they aim to please.

I like it when steak comes plain on a plate, without sauces nor garnish. I believe that a real great steak can be truly enjoyed on its own; there’s no need to hide good beefy flavour under any sort of sauce. 
L-R: de lomo (fillet), de ancho (rib-eye), de cuadril (rump)

You have no idea how excited I was to check the fillet as it's my favourite cut of all time. I've asked for it rare and.....
HAPPINESS!!!!! The fillet cut at Gaucho is served thinner than elsewhere so I'm beyond happy they've managed to cook it right. The flavour is competitive - seasoned to perfection with just the right amount of salt. It was soft to the knife and melted in my mouth. Delicious.

Let's talk about the rib-eye, which came medium rare as requested. I forgot to ask the marble grade on this cut but it tasted, looked and felt like it was on the leaner side. There was still a lot of good flavour from the marbling although as I've said over and over again, I'm really not too keen on medium-rare steak nor rib-eye cuts.

The rump is the leanest cut and it's never nice to chew on good beef so I've asked to have the piece rare. My cut didn't really have that springy bounce when I poked it with my knife so it wasn't surprising when I saw this after first slice...
It was not rare at all so I had to send it back.

A few minutes later, I had the most amazing piece of rump. Just look at this gorgeous thing! (Yes, we got to keep the other piece, too.)
Isn't that amazing? I actually went "Oh, wow!" much to the amusement of my peers. 

The flavour was quite a pleasant surprise. The cooking really made a difference and seriously, I honestly don't think I've ever enjoyed rump like this.

We ordered sides across the table and quite frankly most of them are forgettable. I warn you now: do not get the domino potatoes, they put confit potatoes to great shame! The only side I quite liked was the sweet potato chips with chorizo (£5). The chips were twice cooked so they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I love how the sweetness works with the salty chorizo pieces.

I requested some spinach (£4.5) sauteed in olive oil and lemon. It was a bit of a let down, to be honest.

Most of us ordered steaks save for Kuya D who had the Gaucho burger (£15.50). It wasn't exactly the most photogenic of burgers. Served on a brioche bun, the patty itself looked miniscule, topped with a stingy serving of cheese and the saddest looking bacon strip I've seen in a restaurant. Kuya D said it was just okay and I think for the price he could've had more. At least it came with chips.

After we've finished our mains everyone hinted on being full. I was a wee bit up there with the others but I knew I needed something sweet to balance the protein overload. Nothing from the dessert menu really grabbed me so I just chose the chocolate orange cake (£8.5) because it had 'chocolate'. 
I was expecting a Jaffa Cake-like deconstruction and boy was I wrong. It wasn't a sponge/biscuit based cake, but a chocolate mousse topped with white chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream, served with two wedges of orange on a plate smeared with 'chocolate sauce' that was probably wrongly tempered. You don't really get the orange flavour from the mousse itself, but to be fair it was good enough if you're not too picky (I am).

Admittedly, you can probably find restaurants where you can get a better meal on the cheap, but when they do their steaks right, Gaucho really is not bad. I paid a bit over £50 that night for my share but I think those rare cuts of melt-in-your-mouth fillet and rump were so worth it.

Oh and of course, the company was smashing too.

Gaucho Tower Bridge
2 More London Pl, Southwark SE1 2JP | 020 7407 5222
Ave spend pp £50

Square Meal
Gaucho Grill on Urbanspoon

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