A few weeks ago, I realised there’s still so much of London I’ve yet to explore.I grabbed a London city guide to see how slack I’d been and saw that I still hadn’t done The National Gallery, Kew Gardens, Tower Bridge (been over and under it, but not in it), St Paul’s (be outside it, not in it),Wimbledon, the Notting Hill Festival (meh, I’d probably never do that actually), climbed the Monument at Monument…
So it’s a few weeks later and I now have only one week left in this city. So did I get off my bum to set the travesty right? No, of course not. But I did make sure I had one last visit to a London delight which l shall no longer be able to enjoy in Edinburgh.And anyone who knows me even slightly will be able to guess that this would involve food, and not very sophisticated food at that.
Last Friday night I took myself and the girl who, until meeting me, had never had a steak in her life (apparently it’s just not a dish you get in Hungary) to Gaucho, an Argentinian steak restaurant. In my opinion, or maybe I really mean my in my price range, it’s the best steak you’ll get in a chain restaurant in London. I would have just said ‘best steak in London’ but I’m acutely aware that there’s a whole other London out there which only those on a rather preposterous wage ever get a glimpse of. I’m sure in their London good steaks are easy to come by. But in my London, after budgeting well for a couple of months, if you can afford to splurge £25-ish for a slab of cow, Gaucho’s is the place you want to splurge it in.
Despite the fact that Gaucho’s interior design looks like someone has slaughtered a herd of black, brown and white cows, then dimmed the lights and put in chandeliers in an attempt to make us believe cow hide is couture, it’s no run of the mill chain.
Arrrrgh my eyes! It’s not nearly as painful with the lights down, I promise. Maybe just don’t go during daylight.
In the girl’s world, anywhere with a table cloth is fancy, so I was wary that she might be feeling a bit out of place in this dark den of dead cow. But then came the chimichurri, and the only thing left for her to think about was the food and putting more of it into her mouth.
Mmmmm. Chimichurri is a mix of olive oil, parsley, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar and sometimes lemon, and it’s used as a marinade for steak. But at Gaucho’s you also get it in a bowl to dip with bread at the beginning of the meal. It’s seriously divine and shits all over your regular fancy-schmancy-restaurant oil and balsamic vinegar bread dip. Actually it might also be something to do with the cheesy ball of yeast they give you to soak it up with too.Very few places give me mouthgasms at just the bread part of the service, so it raises expectations just a tad for the rest of the meal.
We got the tasting plate to share (which is pretty much half a cow done three different ways) and a couple of sides. I actually hate that about restaurants these days. I mean we’re paying £35 for some meat, you’d think they could throw a couple of spuds and carrots at us on the house. Anyhoo, the meat was dribbleicious and the girl is now a steak convert. Somehow I managed to squeeze in the most amazing sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had (I was groaning so much with each bite, if I didn’t know better I would have thought I was stoned) and a couple of Caipirinha cocktails.
I’m not exactly a gourmet and I’m terribly limited and unsophisticated as far as my palate goes, but I do appreciate good food. And I don’t mind having to pay more for it. But if the atmosphere is anything but relaxed and friendly I’m not likely to go back. Gaucho’s might look a bit fancy by the decor – despite the evidence that Cruella has ditched her Dalmations for Daisy the Cow and gone into the restaurant trade – but the waiters are always down to earth, so it not only gets my thumbs up, but my big toes as well.
Now I just need to find me a box of Ben’s Cookies before I leave and I can set happily off northward next week to search for a deep fried Mars Bar.