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|Address:||25 Swallow Street, London W1B 4QR|
|Tel:||020 3641 0757|
|Price: £56.00||Wine: £29.50||Champagne: £70.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -10.30pm)|
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Gaucho – Swallow Street Piccadilly
I’m sure that if the popular Gaucho chain were allowed, it would place a large sign, probably in bull’s blood, reading ‘No Vegetarians’, outside all of its London restaurants. Not a place for the squeamish, Gaucho is a celebration of all those things that vegetarians cannot enjoy. Chopping boards of raw meat, cowhide chairs and a carnivorous menu with a strong Argentinian influence are all about as off-putting to our veggie counterparts as a branding iron is to a heard of cattle. The South American inspiration is seen in the menu but abruptly stops there, before the London interior designers and foreign waiters take over, creating a unique and funky environment for the capital’s yuppies to enjoy. This makes for fashionable meal, ideal before a night out in Mayfair, but sadly scores zero marks for authenticity. Never mind, who cares about an Argentinian experience when Dom Perignon is on the drinks list, and ‘they still do chips’.
Everything about Gaucho is glamorous, from the red carpet entry through heavy, black velvet curtains, to the cloakroom housing enough fur for me to wonder whether venturing between these designer jackets would lead me to Narnia. Any hopes of making the transition to another land, perhaps the Argentinian Pampas, were dashed as we were led upstairs to the impressive dining room. Typically London, the exceptionally dark restaurant was dimly lit by a few huge chandeliers and the DJs laptop which played background music, the genre of which was certainly not Tango.
Sat at our table, we were greeted by a knowledgeable waiter carrying a board vividly displaying the various cuts of meat available. To some this may have been slightly sickening, yet to myself the meat looked perfect and his lecture on each cut couldn’t end quick enough. Being a man’s man, I ordered the largest rump steak at 400g for a reasonable £21.50. It arrived in all its glory, alone on a large white plate except for its own juices; perfectly medium rare as requested. It didn’t necessarily need the tart béarnaise sauce, such was its flavour, but my greed got the better of me. The chips were also excellent, not greasy but golden with a crisp outside and fluffy center, the perfect combination that so many restaurants promise but fail to deliver. When asking for ketchup the waiter looks blankly, and I wonder if this is a strange request? I begin to doubt the acceptability of my typically student-like demand, but after three attempts the language barrier had been broken and the European apologised and promptly obliged. Accompanied with a ‘truly Argentinian red wine’ of which I was assured was ‘excellent’ the carnivore inside me was totally satisfied. With sides at £3 and reasonably priced wines, the meal was not the ludicrous price that some restaurants worse than Gaucho steal from the deep pockets of its diners.
From every meat-lover’s dream menu, Gaucho sears up a steak that anyone who thinks-they-know meat should judge against their finest. Likening this restaurant’s food to a rugby team with the finesse of synchronised swimmers would be accurate. As I leave through the spacious entrance hall and out through the curtains I imagine being snapped by paparazzi before remembering that once outside I am no longer subject to celebrity-like treatment I had received within. Walking as far as my girlfriend’s heels would let her, we succumb to the black cab and head home after an excellent dinner.